Doggone

I visited my parents in North Little Rock last week, and as is my custom, I went out Tuesday morning to walk around the block a couple times. Our pastor had texted me and asked me to call her, so I dialed her number as I walked down the driveway, noting a couple of dogs nosing around in the leaves piled at the curb a few houses up.

My pastor answered and we began our conversation as I crossed the street to the sidewalk on the far side and headed down the street. I don’t know why I always walk around the block in that downhill direction, but I always do. I had literally taken about ten steps – I wasn’t even to Rodman’s driveway – when the two aforementioned dogs came running at me, both barking fiercely. I turned and realized these dogs were serious, especially the big one. The bigger one came right at me as I screamed, “GIT!” as loudly as I could. He was snarling, and although I kept screaming, “No!” and “Go away” (with Pastor Barb still on the phone in my right hand), he bit my left forearm.

It’s strange the intuitive but decidedly unhelpful things one does when a dog locks his teeth onto one’s arm. Reflexively, I pulled and twisted to try to get away, but that only made the snarling dog clamp down harder. Pastor Barb asked, “Are you OK,” and all I could think to reply was, “Pray!” And she did. I kept hollering at the dog and trying not to cry, and a few seconds (that seemed a lot longer than that) later, he let go. Not sure what to do, I turned back toward the street, facing my parents’ house, and he came at me again. I lunged toward him and screamed, “GIT!” again, and barking, he and his companion trotted back up the middle of the street.

As I crossed the street back to my parents’ driveway, their next-door neighbor was backing down her driveway and had her window down. I called out to her,”Hey, are those your dogs?”

“No,” she replied. “They live up there [she pointed up the street and described the house a few doors up], and they do that all the time. You ought to call.”

“OK,” I thanked her, not sure what she meant.

I was shaking, but OK, and although the next day I found a deep purple bruise on my arm, the dog had not broken the skin. I was really blessed; I had on a new jacket over a long-sleeved shirt and neither of those was even torn. (Eleven days later, I still have an impressive but painless bruise, shaped like a small, oblong donut.) I retreated to my parents fenced backyard, where I finished my phone conversation and walked back and forth in the yard for a while.

Back inside and physically calmed down, I got angry. If my elderly parents had been attacked by that dog, I suspect the outcome could have been much worse. To not even be safe walking on the sidewalk in your own established residential neighborhood – where you’ve owned a home for 48 years – is just wrong! When I told them what had happened, Dad said they’d been seeing those dogs running loose for the past couple weeks. Well that did it. I was steamed and needed to take some kind of action, so I called the police and reported that I’d been attacked and bitten by a dog running loose. They referred me to animal control, so I called that number. I gave the receptionist there my story, my phone number, and my parents’ address, along with the fact that I could still see the dogs running loose. She assured me that an officer would come out and get in touch with me.

I waited all day and heard nothing. No one called back, no one came to the house, and as far as I could tell, no one did anything. And isn’t that just like government? It puts its nose where it doesn’t belong, and it doesn’t do the the things it should be doing. Grrrr. The next morning, I called back to animal control to let the receptionist know that I’d be leaving town in a few hours, and if anyone from their office wanted to meet with me, they would need to do it soon. She said she’d connect me to Officer ______ (I regret that I didn’t get his name), and after a short hold, a very respectful man came on the line and said he was the officer who had handled my report. He said that he had come out the previous day, “and we picked up the big dog, the one that attacked you. He was one really mean dog and very hard to catch. We eventually got him pinned on the front porch and then were able to use the [I can’t remember what kind of pole he said], and then he was OK and we loaded him just fine. But then we chased that little one – the one he was running with – for over an hour, but never could catch it. We issued the owner a citation for letting her dogs run loose. She said she had had to leave for work and didn’t have time to bring them in. Well…  Anyway, we brought the dog in, and with that citation you shouldn’t have any further problems. I should have gotten back with you yesterday about it, but while we were in that neighborhood we had to go to another call on Monticello [a couple blocks from my parents’s house], and I just never got back with you. I’m glad you are OK, but if you have any other issues, call us and we’ll take care of it.”

So I felt vindicated and had to repent for my thoughts about government in general and North Little Rock government in particular. My parents’ tax dollars really are at work, and I was very satisfied with the prompt and professional way the whole situation was handled. Next time I visit, I’ll be sure to bring my heavy-duty walking stick.

On my to-do list

I’ve been in something like a nesting phase for the past couple weeks, and NO, I am not pregnant!!! Sheesh. Now, that would be an immaculate conception, for sure.

Scott was away for a while, and during that time, I found myself working hard and fast to get things in order; all kinds of things but especially procedures. As in, I do the payroll for our family business, and between having one new employee start and some of them having new responsibilities and all of them having new pay rates, I had quite a bit of set-up to do before diving into my usual February 1 payroll procedure. It took more time than I anticipated, but I think I now have things set up to work much more smoothly going forward.

And then I made cookie dough brownies for a church event. I had kind of dreaded making them, because although they have always been a fail-proof family standby, the past few times they have not turned out, in a big and disappointing way. But this time, I adjusted the baking time and did not cool them in the fridge between steps, and they turned out perfectly.  = )  So I made notes on the recipe so I can repeat my success next time, but now the recipe sheet is so scribbled up that it’s hard to read, so I need to edit it and reprint it for my recipe binder.

I’ve also been making good use of my new analog planner – a wonderful Christmas gift from my friend, Rachael (THANK YOU, Rachael), which is truly perfect for me. I’m able to flip ahead and note things that need to be done weeks or months down the road, like refilling prescriptions and talking with Scott about seasonal business ideas, so I’ve been looking ahead and making those kinds of notes and also setting reminders in my phone.

All these things make me wonder what’s ahead; what it is that I’m preparing for and why. So far I’m clueless on that, but I am definitely feeling calmer and more “in charge” of my time. As a result, I’ve been able to at least scratch the surface of a few ideas and projects that I’ve been ignoring for way too long. Hopefully I can keep making progress. It’s 8:20 PM, and tomorrow’s to-do list looks pretty light. I do love white space, and maybe I’ll have time to tackle something that makes me feel productive and energized.  = )

Guessing game

First, I should repent for grumbling about our many recent days of cold, windy, grey dreariness. Today dawned bright and sunny, it stayed that way most of the day, and I was so glad.

Second, I really want to figure out which combination of temperature, wind, and humidity causes frost to form on one’s windshield. (And let’s not even tackle why only my front windshield and driver’s side window get that treatment.) This time last year, which was also cold, grey, and dreary – maybe I should just expect that in late January, huh? – I came up with a brilliant idea. Since I leave home early in the morning, and since I am strongly opposed to the idea of standing out in the cold in the dark to scrape my windshield, I began putting a small sheet of cardboard (maybe 18″ by 30″?) on my windshield at night. This has been a lovely solution. I go out to the car, take off the cardboard and put it in the back seat, start the car, and immediately drive away. Quick and easy.

Sometimes I forget, but all last week, every single night I was very diligent to set my cardboard out. It’s really satisfying to come out and find the car encased in ice, but have a small, clear view out the front. I feel smug, as if I have outwitted the weather, as in “Ha, ha, ha, you can’t make me have to freeze and scrape!” So I was actually disappointed to come out every morning for a week, and whether it was in the 20s or 30s, find not an iota of frost anywhere on the car. Then last night, I forgot to go out and set the cardboard, and this morning my windshield was totally frosted. Go figure. Frost monkeys maybe. Actually, there’s probably some specific mixture of weather features that causes the frost/ice, and I’d like to know what it is. But I don’t know that googling “how to predict early morning windshield ice in January” is going to generate the results I need.

Meanwhile, I’m ready for bed now, I forgot again, it’s 38 degrees, and I’m not going back out to set my cardboard tonight. Any guesses on whether I’ll need to scrape in the morning?

Let it snow!

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful…”

It’s not really frightful, but it is wearyingly dreary. As I have stated many times before – and my opinion on the matter has not changed – I think there is absolutely no reason for prolonged cold, windy cloudiness without snow.

The forecast this week was hopeful, and our friendly KY3 meteorologists told us again and again about the anticipated “bad” weather to come. Multiple fronts would be passing through, one after the other, each bringing some kind of wintry mix. We were under repeated winter weather alerts for three days, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday; specifically, freezing rain, sleet, and/or snow were expected late each night and into the following early morning. Instead, it’s been cold (lows of 33, highs of 34), windy, and intermittently misting or raining for three days and nights. Today is Friday, and it’s been cloudy for the past week. Literally. The sun has not come out. And of course that would be OK, if only it would snow.

Springfield (34 miles away) had snow. Andrew scraped two inches of snow off his windshield to come home this evening, and he said there was a layer of ice under that! Nixa (26 miles away) had snow. But in Walnut Shade, we had only 12 brief minutes of flurries this morning.

I am venting here, but I’m really only a little bit envious. I actually rejoice with and for those who rejoice. After all, this winter is young, and there’s always next year.  = )  Let it snow!

Between two big events (or two little choices)

Today is Monday, January 20, 2020, which means yesterday was January 19, and makes tomorrow January 21. Today is poised smack dab between the Kansas City Chiefs’ winning a trip to the Super Bowl and the beginning of President Trump’s impeachment trial. Weighty times, these.

I stayed up late last night. Sometimes I do that when I’m really on a roll and getting something important done. That’s all fine and good, but then I like to have some time to relax (and often eat something yummy) as a reward for having completed whatever it was. It was that combination that had me getting into bed at 11:05 last night, and unfortunately, I was then up at one something and again at three something, probably thanks to hot flashes and/or a restless knee.

Anyway, as I climbed back into bed around 3:15, I remember thinking, “Ah! I’ve still got nearly two hours.” My alarm was set for 5:05, my normal getting-up time, and thankfully I fell back asleep quickly.

When I woke up, I looked at the clock, and it was – how can this be possible?!? – five FORTY-EIGHT. I got up, walked across the room, turned on the light and studied my alarm clock. Had I forgotten to set it? No. Was it turned off? No. Were the batteries dead? No. No, the alarm had gone off just like it always does. And let me tell you, my alarm is a force to be reckoned with! It goes off with ever-increasing intensity for something like a minute, and it’s loud enough, piercing enough, and painfully shrill enough, to, as the saying goes, wake the dead. To have slept through all THAT was quite the accomplishment.  = )

And it gets worse.

After doing my Bible reading (about 30 minutes), doing my stretches while listening to the first half of The World and Everything In It (15 minutes), glancing at my email (1 minute), and grabbing the outgoing mail, I usually leave the house at 6:00 to go to the fitness center at the RecPlex. This time works well for me for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that when I get there at 6:15, no one is using the one and only seated elliptical that I use. This means I can start my 25 minutes of huffing and sweating as soon as I arrive. There is one other seated elliptical next to “mine,” but it doesn’t work nearly as well for me, and in the past year I’ve only had to use it a couple of (inconvenient) times.

Well, getting up 45 minutes late meant that I arrived at the gym some 35 minutes later than usual (I rushed), and sure enough, a man I didn’t know was using “my” machine. He was very polite and asked if I wanted to use it, but it’s first come, first served, and he’d been on it for five and-a-half minutes, so I said “no, thank you” and then spent several minutes figuring out how to adjust the settings on the less desirable one.

It all worked out okay. I got to do my workout which is what mattered, but here’s what I learned: ALL my choices have consequences; not just the big ones that I stew over and pray about (or don’t). Even the little ones, like staying up late one night. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with staying up late, but I would have done well to think about the potential consequences. What do I want more? To get this certain task done tonight, or to work out on my favorite machine tomorrow? Many times either choice will be fine, but I should be purposeful in my volition, because I may not be able – despite my keen desire – to do both.

God has graciously enabled me to have much, but in some situations, I can’t have  everything I want. Notes to self: Be aware. Choose wisely.

A few things I’ve learned lately

  1. When a kid leaves here after having been home for a visit, it doesn’t matter how far away they’re going; whether it’s 36 miles or 1,015 miles or 1,917 miles or 7,975 miles, I will cry. Dear God, I love those kids.
  2. If I were paid Missouri’s current minimum wage ($9.45/hour) for the time I’ve  spent so far this year looking for misplaced items, I could  shorten my “Giving Goals” list by some 45%.
  3. Sharp knives work a heck of a lot better than dull ones.
  4. I have yet to come home from Walmart and not need to write something on the Walmart list.
  5. I like to eat meals in bowls.
  6. It is not smart to fall asleep without turning off one’s bed heater.
  7. Hanging our laundry out on the clothesline is soothing to me.
  8. This song floats my boat.

Scavenger hunt results

When we last left Team Roberts, our four Walnut Shade-based team members were heading out for a Christmas Day scavenger hunt. Having collected ourselves and with a copy of the The List on each of our phones, we departed home at 10:51 AM. Here, in the order obtained, are the pictures that document our finds.

20. A living mammal

 

27. A outhouse (yes, there really is one back there)

 

23. A church bell

 

24. Lichen on rock (it’s orange)

 

2. Something triangular

 

10. A mile marker sign that ends with .8

 

3. Something orange and yellow

 

1. Something that has at least three stars

 

15. A hot Starbucks drink

 

4. Something with military significance

 

7. The words “Thank You”

 

19. The number 29

 

17. A “For Sale” sign with red letters

 

11. A Christmas tree painted on a window

 

18. A gumball from a sweet gum tree

 

21. A steering wheel with a colorful cover

 

22. A non-Branson school bus

 

26. A geocache

 

29. A person in a boat on the water

 

13. A coil spring (in the underbelly of a four-wheeler)

 

9. An Iowa license plate (finally and with much effort, after two got away)

 

12. Baby Jesus in a manger (surprisingly hard to find at Christmas time!)

 

5. Something that has six to eight legs

 

28. A fire tower (top-down: Andrew, Scott, Katie)

 

14. A woodpecker tree hole

 

6. Something squishy (it’s a slug!)

 

30. A picture of all of us (Scott, Patty, Katie, Andrew) with none of our feet on the ground

 

25. A “Slippery When Wet” sign

 

16. Hot French fries

 

I don’t think we ever found a reptile or amphibian, but we got all 29 other items! We started at 10:51 and finished at 2:02. Very hungry and eagerly anticipating our “breakfast” feast, we arrived at IHOP at 2:05 PM, only to be told that they had closed at 2:00. MAJOR BUMMER!!! But we went to McFarlain’s in the IMAX complex and had a good meal including “hot French fries.”

We covered a lot of miles, had loads of fun together, are especially proud of #30, and expect to long remember our Christmas Day Scavenger Hunt of 2019!

 

 

A new tradition?

This year, well, actually 2019, we celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve, in order to better accommodate our whole far-flung family, specifically Ezekiel, who was likely to be in a more festive mood at 8:00 AM than at 10:00 PM. For the past, oh, six or seven years – minus maybe one year when Jessica was stateside? – we have celebrated Christmas by opening gifts together over Skype at about 8:00 AM December 25th in Walnut Shade, which is 10:00 PM December 25th in Hong Kong. This has worked out pretty well because Jessica and Matthias had other activities during the day on Christmas, and being young and childless, they were willing to stay up till the wee hours. But now, with six-month-old Ezekiel participating, they asked for a schedule change to which we gladly agreed.

This was also our first-ever Christmas without Josiah on site. And yes, I did cry, but I am okay now. Jo lives in California and, having spent nearly nine (wonderful!) days here with us at Thanksgiving, he opted to visit friends in Santa Cruz for Christmas. For our traditional opening-of-the-gifts, the eight of us ended up meeting for about three hours, beginning at 6:30 PM December 24th MO time (Scott, Patty, Katie, and Andrew eating breakfast casserole and fresh pineapple for supper), 4:30 PM December 24th CA time (Josiah sitting with a pile of packages in his friends’ unfinished basement!), and 8:30 AM December 25th HK time (Jessica and Matthias doing most of the gift opening, with Ezekiel helping, guiding every present to his mouth, and occasionally napping, nursing, and pooping as needed during the festivities).

A few days before Christmas, the Walnut Shade contingent discussed the fact that, for the first time ever, we would have basically nothing to do on Christmas morning. It seemed like after opening the gifts on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day itself would be a big let-down and kind of depressing. Bummer. Of course, those who were so inclined could sleep in, but then what? So we talked about doing something new and different as a marker of this “new and different” Christmas season in our lives, but frankly ideas were few. There’s just not a ton of fun outdoorsy stuff to do here in December, and most of the indoor “activity” places would be – as well they should be on Christmas – closed. We considered going to see the newly released Star Wars movie, but although we were both willing, that was not a huge draw for Scott and me. We talked about going on a hike, but that would have been a major negative for Andrew.

Then two days before Christmas, I had an idea. Maybe we could do a photo scavenger hunt by car. We could make a list of interesting things to find, pile into the Durango with our list and cell phones, and see how long it would take to drive around and photograph each item. Before mentioning this crazy thought to the rest of the gang, I started making a list, coming up with 25 random goals.

It turns out that Scott, Andrew, and Katie were all game for it, and in order to enjoy the luxury of sleeping in on Christmas Day we agreed on a 10:30 start time. Scott even said that if we finished by 2:00 PM, he would buy us all lunch at IHOP, a special treat for the breakfast food lovers among us! We all reviewed my proposed list, Scott suggested some additions, we dropped a couple that seemed confusing or too challenging, and on Christmas Eve afternoon, we refined our list to the following 30 items.

Something that…

  1. Has at least three stars
  2. Is triangular
  3. Is yellow and orange
  4. Has military significance
  5. Has six to eight legs
  6. Is squishy
  7. Has the words “Thank You”

Also…

  1. A reptile or amphibian
  2. An Iowa license plate
  3. A mile marker sign that ends with .8
  4. A Christmas tree painted on glass
  5. Baby Jesus in a manger
  6. A coil spring
  7. A woodpecker tree hole
  8. A hot Starbucks drink
  9. Hot French fries
  10. A For Sale sign with red letters
  11. A gumball from a sweet gum tree
  12. The number “29”
  13. A living mammal
  14. A steering wheel with a colorful cover
  15. A non-Branson school bus
  16. A church bell
  17. Lichen on a rock
  18. A slippery when wet road sign
  19. A geocache
  20. An outhouse
  21. A fire tower
  22. Someone in a boat on the water
  23. A picture of Dad, Mom, Katie, and Andrew with none of our feet on the ground

I’ll share the results in my next post.  = )

Some old Saturday news

Back in October, I sent an email of home news to Scott when he was out of town. It documented a pretty amazing day, and I’m posting it here, even though it’s old news now, just because I don’t want to lose it.

~~~~~

Dear Scott,
Saturday was an amazing day, much too full to not tell you about, so I will now try to write it up so you can enjoy it too.
2:30 AM – got up
3:15 AM – took you to the airport
5:30 AM – back home, but had a VERY tough time staying awake on the drive; slept till 7:00, then stretched and went to work out and walk to the gate
9:15 AM – 2nd floor cleaning, including my traditional scrubbing of our shower curtain (a distasteful task that I discipline myself to always do on the very first bathroom cleaning after you leave)
Some desk work that I don’t remember
11:00 AM – showered, texted briefly with you
A good deal of planning for errand-running. I needed to go to the PO before it closed at 1:30, and I decided to go ahead and do a lot of shopping things. I wanted to take the printer to Best Buy. My mom’s birthday is coming up. I wanted to get her come coasters and a calendar (things she wanted) and/or maybe some dish towels. Her birthday is 11/5, but I’m going there 10/31, and if I could get the stuff together I could take it rather than ship it. Jessica had sent a list of some gift ideas for her birthday and/or for them for Christmas, and I probably need to get some or most of their Christmas shopping done before they get here. I wanted to go to HH to look for dip and to find out if they carry pretzels for Christmas. I wanted to look for cheap lamps for our house. I needed to get a book for the baby shower for Phillip and Nichole, etc.
So… from 1:00 to 7:00 PM, I made the following stops. (deep breath!)
– post office in Rockaway. When I came out I noticed that the left front tire, which I’ve been looking at in the driveway for several days and wondering whether or not it’s a bit flat (can’t tell for sure on the gravel) seemed to be OK, but the left rear one looked a bit flat (but only on the bottom side), so I thought that at my next stop, maybe I should check the pressure.
– Harter House. Pulled in the lot and decided to check the tire before going in. Finally found something that said they should be 35 psi. Left rear was 12 psi. This was not a good feeling, but there was a…
– gas station right there, so I pulled up to the free air thing and shoved it hard onto the stem and it whooshed but didn’t seem to be making the sound of air going in. In fact, it sounded like air was going out instead, even though I had the things shoved all the way onto the stem. I pulled it off and checked it again. 10 psi. This was a problem. I didn’t panic, but I knew I HAD to get air into that tire ASAP, so I left that gas station and went to…
– the Turkey Creek store (gas station/convenience store in front of Menard’s). I pulled up to their air thing, but something was wrong with it. The end of it just looked like a hose and I couldn’t figure out how to attache it to the stem. I wanted to cry, but did not. I went in and decided to pull out my helpless middle-aged female card. I asked the guy at the counter if they had any way to put air in a tire. He said yes and pointed to where I was parked. I said I had tried but was there anyone who could help me air up my tire? And another customer (45-ish man) said he would. The counter guy handed him a thing that you have to put on the end of the hose in order to hook it to the stem. That’s why I couldn’t do it. This man kindly aired the tire up to 35 psi and then said, “Ma’am, there’s your problem.” And he pointed to a nail in the tread of the tire. It was a good-sized one; the head of it was the size of my finger nail (ring finger). The nail was obviously holding in whatever air was in the tire. I said, “Oh boy. I’ll have to get that fixed, but I can’t take it anywhere till Monday.” It was 2:15 PM on a Saturday. He said, “You really need to get it fixed right away.”  And I replied, “Yeah, but where in Branson could I get that done today?” He straightened up and pointed across the way and said, “Well, there’s Big O Tires right there. They could fix it.” Amazing! And it looked like maybe they were even open. I thanked him for his help. He was so kind to me. Thought I was a tourist but I told him I was local, just not in Branson. Turns out we’re nearly neighbors. He lives in Whitetail Crossing (where the Hills used to live). He was as good as an angel to me. So I drove straight to…
– Big O Tires. They close at 3:00 on Saturdays. They fixed it for me and I had to pay $23.99. That seemed awfully high, but I didn’t really have a choice. I was desperate and I know God was taking care of me.
– Harter House. Got my dip, confirmed pretzels for December, and picked up some other canned goods and staples that were on good prices.
– Apple Tree Mall, up and down all those aisles, where I found these two lamps for $10 each. I will figure out which shades to put on which lamps and where to put them, but they cost less than getting smaller ones at WM. I felt successful. And my tire wasn’t flat on the bottom!  = )
– Calvin’s Used Books, where I looked for kid books but didn’t find what
I wanted. Calvin is much older but just as cheerful as he was 20 years ago. Some things never change.  = )
– Tuesday morning (Branson Meadows), where I saw some coasters, but none that were just right and got some kitchen towels for Mom.
– Kitchen Collection (Branson Meadows), where they had only one kind of coasters (not right) and nothing else useful.
– Best Buy, where I got an employee to carry my printer in while I was parked illegally. I had to wait in line for a short time (hoping my car wouldn’t be ticketed) at the Geek Squad place, because I wanted to get one of their 15% off on a major purchase deals for recycling a printer. The guy at the counter said that it looked like there wouldn’t be a charge today (Gee, thanks!), and handed me a receipt. I looked at it and said, “Is this what gets me the 15% off on a major purchase?” And he had never heard of such a thing. I decided to let it drop. Maybe I’d mis-read something online. But I was parked illegally where the other guy had told me to pull up, and I had a lot of other errands, and I didn’t want to mess with it, and mainly I just wanted the printer gone and it was, so I left.
– Books a Million, where I saw a number of kid books that brought back memories and so many I’d love to give Ezekiel, and got a Frog and Toad book for the baby shower. AH!!! It is one of my joys in life!
– Pier One Imports, where I strongly considered one set of coasters, but passed when I realized they were plastic, although they looked like wood.
– TJ Maxx, where I actually bought a set of wood coasters (made in India!) and found a perfect gift for Ezekiel. = D
– Walmart, where I looked for a calendar for my mom, but they didn’t have any.
So that was 15 stops in 7 hours. I arrived home totally exhausted, but then I entered all those purchases in Quicken.
Once I got all that done, it was late, but I needed to write a trip update, which I did. And then it was 10:30 and I hadn’t put away the groceries yet, but I needed to get up at 5:00 to take BUM so that it would be done before I went to get Virginia, so I went to bed.
The end of Saturday!
Much love,
Patty

 

Angelic attire, part 2

Continued…

(When we last left our damsel in distress, the motorcycle guy had just replied to her request for help with a flat tire, saying, “I’ll take a look at it.” To which she privately thought, “Oh. Thank. God.”)

I walked over to the Durango and opened the trunk, pointing around to the extremely flat left front tire. He came around to the back as I yanked my suitcase, computer, and a few other things out and piled them on the ground.

He studied the back end of the car, looked at the spare mounted up under the trunk, and said, “Hmm… Haven’t dealt with a Dodge in a long time. Don’t know how this thing releases. Usually they’ve got a button back here or under here that you press to release it.”

“Wait!” I exclaimed. “Lemme look in the owner’s manual. That probably says how to do it.” I got it out, flipped to the index, found the place where it was written, and started reading aloud. Turns out the release thing is on the inside and at first it was not obvious, but I found it, and as I read the instructions, he did what it said. The process involved using a part of the jack to twist a certain thing for quite a while till the spare was lowered to the ground and the cable had enough slack that it could be unhooked. He left me cranking up top while he lay on the ground under it to get the spare off.

I was greatly relieved to see that it was a full-size spare and not one of those little “donuts” that you’re only supposed to drive 50 miles on. I had no idea how much air was in it, but whatever it had was significantly more than the one on the car!

The guy rolled the spare up to the other, and as I read him all the blurb about where and where not to put the jack, and as he started on the lug nuts, we talked a bit.

“What does your husband do?”

“He’s a missionary.”

“What kind?”

“Christian.”  = )

“With what organization? Or what denomination?”

“We’re non-denominational. He’s an independent missionary. He goes to other nations and trains pastors.”

“Oh. I’m Southern Baptist.”

I responded immediately and fervently, “Southern Baptists are the greatest people in the world!”

“Well, your husband’s doing ten times more than I ever do.”

“You’re a veteran. Thank you for all you’ve done for our country. And thank you for helping me. I sure do appreciate it.”

“I’m a retired policeman. I’m used to helping people.”

“Well, I’m sure you’re on your way to somewhere…”

“Actually no. I’ve been riding all day. Headed home. I only live two miles from here.”

He was a big, strong guy, and he was grunting and sweating over my lug nuts. He finally got three off, but the fourth was stubborn. He was putting all he had into it. I said, “That one’s a real son of a gun.” He was red in the face and didn’t reply, but leaning hard on the lug wrench, he finally broke it free. Unfortunately, the fifth one was worse, and no matter what he did, it would. not. budge. Uh-oh. I hadn’t really thought what would happen if a brawny man couldn’t get my lug nuts off. Then what?!?

He stood up, and suddenly I fought panic. What if he said he couldn’t do it and just left?

“I can’t get that one loose without breaking it, but I’ve got just the right tool to get it off. I’ll go get it and be back.”

“Well… okay.” (What else could I say?)

“I’ll be back in a few minutes. I’ll be driving a blue truck.”

“Okay. Thank you SO much. Hey, what’s your name?”

“Jim.”

“Well, I’m Patty. Thank you again, Jim. Say, how about I just wait here till you get back?” We both laughed, and he got on his motorcycle and drove off.

I spent the next few minutes thanking God and praying for Jim. I was sure he’d come back. God clearly had everything under control. The guy was a vet, a retired policeman, and a Christian! Seriously?!? What more could I ask?

In less than 15 minutes, Jim pulled up in a big, shiny, navy blue pickup. It was one of those with the high tires and an extended cab. The color made sense, too; he’d told me that he rides with the Blue Knights.

He asked me to move the Durango to a different part of the lot, where it would be on concrete instead of gravel and therefore easier to jack up. I was wary of denting the rim, and so drove very slowly, but it was fine, and besides, the tire was only flat on one side. = )  Jim reminded me to set my parking brake, then opened the tailgate of his truck, pulled out a yellow handheld drill, tried a couple of tips till he had the one that fit my lug nuts, and with a few impressive “zint-zint-ZINTS” (just like the guys at the tire shop) popped them all off – even that recalcitrant fifth one –  in nothing flat. Then he was back to the truck for the pièce de ré·sis·tance: a yellow hydraulic jack that looked something like this: 

He said he’d brought it because it would work a lot better than the scissor jack that was in the car, and sure enough, it did. He slid that puppy under the side of the Durango, gave it three or four good pumps, and that tire was up off the ground.

Jim pulled the tire off and rolled it over to the side, and he showed me the nail that had started this whole problem. It was broken off in the tire, but he said it looked like the tire could be fixed, that it had plenty of good tread. (I was already planning to be at Taney County Tire first thing Monday morning.) Jim changed the tire, lowered the jack, tightened all the lugs nuts, and said that since they’d have to get to the tire to fix it anyway – and since getting the flat one rigged back onto the cable the spare had been on would be a pain neither of us wanted to deal with – he’d just put it inside. And with a mighty heave and a grunt he heaved it up into the car.

Suddenly it occurred to me that I should pay him something –  for his time, his expertise, his tools, his willingness to do all that – but I had uncharacteristically left home without any cash, not a single dollar! I said, “I don’t have any cash with me, but I can write you a check… and it’s good.”

“Oh, no, no, no! This is my good deed for the day… or for the month!”

“Well, thank you so much. I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate all you’ve done. I need to at least get a picture of you.” So he posed for this one,

but then said, “Take a selfie.” I am not a skillful selfie-taker, and the lighting and composition are both bad, but at that point quality photography wasn’t the goal.

So I said, through uncontrollable tears – the kind that come after the fact and seem to make no sense, the kind that come when I fall apart once a scary situation is over – “Well, at least let me pray for you!” And I prayed ALL the good things I could think of for Jim Grissom. I wish now that I’d gotten a picture of him in riding gear. I didn’t think of pictures till it was all over. It was a warm day and he’d worked up such a sweat over my lugs nuts that he’d changed when he went home.

He was an angel to me that day.

Our church is planning a Christmas outreach, and some of the ladies are sewing costumes; you know, for shepherds and angels and such. Those angels’ll be wearing robes, but some angels wear skull caps and leather vests.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As Jim drove off, I drove over to the actual, functional air pump, thinking it would be good to confirm that my spare had 35 psi. As I stepped out of the car, a young (well, 40-ish) man was just putting away the hose after airing up his tires. “Would you like me to air up your tire, ma’am?” (I immediately thought of Rebekah at the well offering to water Abraham’s servant’s camels.)

“Well, I can do it.”

“Oh, it’s no problem, ma’am. I’m done with mine and it’s still going. Might as well use it for yours.”

So he started filling my just-mounted spare tire, which by the way, had only 20 psi. Good thing I stopped to check. As he aired up my tire, it occurred to me that for this air you had to pay. And I had NO money at all. So if this young man hadn’t “happened” to be there with extra time on his dime, I couldn’t have aired up my spare. Also, small world, he and his wife were from Conway, so we talked a bit about college in that town, and his brother-in-law has a condo in – you won’t believe this – Rockaway Beach!!! – where they go for vacation every year! I drive past those exact condos every time I go to the post office. Incredible.

That gas station is indeed the last gas station in Damascus. The next one was seven miles up the road.

I drove north on tires that made a bit of “tire” noise and now pulled slightly to the right, but which gave me no trouble all the way home.

Monday morning I was indeed at Taney County Tire (where we’d bought the tires) before they opened, and Justin took care of me. They fixed the flat, mounted it on the car, rotated the tires (they were due for that anyway), and re-attached the spare up underneath. No charge, and all is well.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As I type this, I am amazed all over again at how God took care of me.

~ When the tire blew at 70 mph, I didn’t lose control of the car.

~ I was able to stop at a gas station that had an air pump…

~ Before the tire went completely flat.

~ God just “happened” to have a strong man on a motorcycle getting gas at that specific station at that particular moment…

~ Who was a veteran…

~ And a retired policeman…

~ And a Christian…

~ Who knew what to do…

~ And had the perfect tools to do it…

~ And lived only two miles away…

Yes, some angels wear skull caps and leather vests. They do indeed.


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