Archive for the 'Vehicles' Category

Angelic attire, part 2


(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?”


“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.

Angelic attire

I was driving home on Saturday afternoon from a wonderful visit with my parents. They live in North Little Rock, and about an hour from their house, as I was tooling north on 65 at 60 mph, I heard something funny up under the left front part of the Durango. It was a really fast “fump-fump-fump-fump-fump” that kept going for about 20 seconds, during which time something about the left front tire felt rough. I noticed it but didn’t think a lot about it. I was zinging down a hill a bit south of Damascus, and since I do coast on the downhills – although the cruise is set to the speed limit – I was probably pushing 70. Anyway, there was a sudden loud metallic “pop” and then everything went back to normal: no “fump-fump-fump” and everything felt smooth again. I figured there’d been a rock stuck somewhere around the tire and it had finally worked itself free. I was relieved.

Until about a mile later when I thought, “Is this car pulling to the left?” And it was. Rather strongly. Hmm… Two weeks ago I’d had a flat on the left rear tire (story below), so I was rather hypersensitive about tires and thought that I should probably just pull into a gas station and check the pressure on that left front tire and maybe air it up a bit, as I still had over 100 miles to drive that day.

But Damascus just isn’t overrun with gas stations. As I came into town, I passed a tire place on the right – that would be a great place – but it being about 3:00 PM on a Saturday, the place was closed up tight. I knew I’d soon be coming to that old dumpy tan brick building gas station that’s set at an angle, where we used to stop for gas back in the day, but which has pretty scuzzy bathrooms so we don’t anymore. Maybe I could get some air there. By now the pull was pretty significant, and very definitely to the left. Sigh. I pulled in, made for the blue and white sign on the (probably now defunct) car wash that said AIR, and parked. I grabbed the tire gauge out of the glove box (why I still call it a glove box could be a topic for another post), stepped out of the car, and was stunned. It wasn’t that the tire needed a little air. The tire was completely flat, and I was almost on the rim. As in, the depth of tire between the ground and the rim was about an inch and-a-half. This was seriously not good. Before I cried, I evaluated the situation:

~ I was at least 100 miles from home (technically 129).

~ It was a Saturday afternoon.

~ Scott was not at home.

~ Although I do know how to change a tire and have done so several times, that was always on a small passenger car in a driveway and just for practice. I’d never changed a Durango tire, and worse, I didn’t even know how to get the spare down from up under the trunk. I really needed a man. Glancing toward the gas pumps, the only man I saw was a rough looking guy filling the tank on his motorcycle.

~ If I couldn’t find someone to help me, what would I do?

So I started to cry. I’m a grown adult and should be able to take care of things on my own, but at that moment I couldn’t seem to think very clearly, so I called my dad. That really didn’t make a lot of sense. Dad was 51 miles away, and he’s in his 80s. I knew it wouldn’t make any sense for him to come, but I thought he could at least help me figure out what to do. And he did. He mentioned a few common sense things, encouraged me to look around and try to find someone to help me, and said that if I couldn’t, to let him know and he’d come. My dad is wonderful. I thanked him, told him I’d let him know, hung up, tried my best to quit crying, and looked around again.

A 65-ish man had just pulled in (headed south) pulling a large camper. Ha! A man who has a large camper surely knows how to change a tire. I took a deep breath, walked over to him as he was getting out of his truck, and said something like, “Excuse me. I’ve had a flat tire, and I need some help to access the spare. I’m wondering if you might help me (that would be a stretch) get my tire changed.” And he said, nicely, “I’m going to Little Rock and I’m on a time constraint. Maybe you could find someone local who could help you.” I thanked him.

I looked back to the pumps and now there was a 35-ish guy filling up a white pick-up that had some kind of business logo on the side. The guy was sturdy-looking, so I walked over to him and repeated my speech. He looked at me for a minute and said, “Well… Um… lemme check something. He got on his phone and talked to someone. “Hey I’m at the gas station” (he called it “the” gas station; sounded pretty local to me) “and there’s a lady here with a flat tire who needs help changing it…” He turned back to me. “I’m really sorry, but I’m on the clock and my boss says I have to keep going.” I thanked him, but I was really discouraged. And trying not to cry again. But I HAD to find a man to help me, so I took another deep breath and went into the store.

A skinny little lady with kind of stringy hair, maybe 30, looked like she’d already had a tough life, was behind the counter. “I’ve got a problem. My tire is flat, and I need some help to get it changed. I’m wondering if there’s a man around that might be willing to change it for me.”

“I’m the only one here. There’s no men. Sorry.”

I didn’t want her to see me cry for real, so I thanked her quickly and went back out into the sunshine. It was a beautiful, warm, clear, sunny day. Not a cloud in the sky above Damascus, but I was about to fall apart. Three strikes does not make for an encouraging at-bat.

The rough-looking guy was still sitting on his bike at the gas pump. Looked like he was about to leave. I could see one of the patches on his leather vest said something about Iraq. He was a vet. He was a big, burly-looking kind vet, and he had on one of those skin-tight head things that they wear under helmets. I have this thing about veterans. I’m just really fond of them, and I always make a point to thank veterans for serving our country and securing our freedoms whenever I can. Well, this guy looked a little intimidating to me, but I clearly couldn’t leave until I found somebody to help me, so I’d just have to keep trying till someone said yes.

I walked up to him, just a little teary-eyed (not for dramatic effect; just ’cause I couldn’t find my shut-off valve), and said, “Excuse me, sir. I have a flat tire over there, and I’m a little upset, and I’m wondering if you might come change it for me.” He looked at me. He didn’t say anything for a moment. I didn’t know what I’d do if he said no too. There was no one else around.

“I’ll take a look at it.”

Oh. Thank. God.

To be continued…

But first, here’s the scoop on my left rear tire a couple weeks earlier:


Jeopardy question: What is TC5 X5J?

Answer: The license number of Andrew’s “new” 2005 Honda Accord, titled in his name!

This morning, one of Andrew’s profs allowed him to leave class early, so that Scott and I, in the Durango, could pick him up at MSU and drive to the house of Kim (the seller of said vehicle, from whom our family members have now bought a total of seven used cars) before she had to leave for work. We arrived there at noon, and by 1:00 PM, he had signed the paperwork, bought the car (with a loan from the First Familial Bank of Walnut Shade), driven to the license bureau, paid the sales tax and licensing fee, and was headed with license plates in hand to Chick-fil-A to treat us to lunch!

For one thing, if you ever want to buy a great used car in the Springfield area, go to Hughes Auto Sales. Kim buys and sells them, and Carlos fixes them up like new. They make a great team. (I had to nearly drag him to get him into this picture. He’s a superb mechanic and an all-around super nice guy.)

Andrew, Kim, & Carlos

And now I simply must tell you about the license bureau deal.

It’s located on the Park Central square in downtown Springfield, just a few doors from where Josiah used to live and work, and near where Andrew gets his suave hair cuts. Scott and Andrew were in Andrew’s car and I was following in the Durango. Andrew dropped Scott in front of the building and turned off the square (which is more like a circle) to find a place to park. As you probably know, parking in downtown Springfield – like parking in most downtowns – is hard to come by, but Andrew found a little lot just a block away that said “Free Customer Parking – 2 Hour Limit.” The lot was nearly full but just happened to have exactly two empty spaces, which we snagged.

We walked back to the building and found the appropriate office on the second floor. Andrew went in there while I, who on principle almost never pass up a bathroom, took care of other business before returning to the office. It was a standard, boring license bureau office: long line, no decor, one clerk, rows of folding chairs, etc. Scott and Andrew were up at the counter, no one was sitting in the chairs, and the long line (of nearly a dozen people snaking out into the hall) started back on the other side of the chairs. Feeling a bit self-conscious with all those people waiting, I walked past them and joined my handsome men at the counter, acting like I belonged there.

The clerk was nice enough, but she, Scott , and Andrew were just kind of standing around, and it seemed like something must be wrong. It turns out that Andrew was missing one of those four vital pieces of paper we all know you MUST produce in order to license a car in Missouri: title (well, he’d just signed that a few minutes before at Kim’s house, check), proof of insurance (the agent had emailed that to him and it was on his phone, check), proof of inspection (Kim had graciously had the car inspected and given Andrew that paper, check), and a paid personal property tax receipt for a year that I to this day can never figure out without looking it up. I had thought briefly about the personal property tax receipt, but since Andrew had never paid any personal property tax, he obviously wouldn’t need to produce such a receipt.

Well, I was wrong about that. Duh. You can’t just tell them you’ve never paid any personal property tax and don’t owe any; you have to prove it. Scott, brilliant man he is who thinks on his feet, thought, “Hmm, personal property tax, that’s a matter for our County Assessor,” so standing there at the counter he called Chuck Pennel! When we all get to heaven, Chuck will have extra jewels in his crown for all the times he has helped, advised, encouraged, and rescued the Roberts family. So Chuck told Scott what he’d need to do about that situation, and the clerk just calmly stood there with Scott on the phone and Andrew occasionally looking sheepishly over my head (he always looks over my head) at the long line back by the door.

The clerk said Andrew would need some certain form, and I think she – or was it Chuck? – gave Scott a number to call to have them send her the form that would prove that Andrew doesn’t owe any personal property tax. So Scott made another call, and while he was waiting for them to answer, he asked the clerk how much Andrew owed, and she told him. Young people today – and maybe all people today – only have debit cards or credit cards, and although the license bureau would take Andrew’s debit card, they would charge him a service fee, so, old school mom that I am, I whipped out my checkbook and wrote a check for the amount (which Andrew later repaid), and she handed him a receipt and two shiny license plates! Meanwhile, Scott gave whoever he was talking with on the phone all the pertinent info, and they looked Andrew up, and was he from Kansas City, and no he was not, etc. And then “they” evidently sent the required form, and just then, at that very moment, the clerk said, “Well, the internet just went down.”

I. Could. Not. Believe. It.

Not only would that mess up our own deal, what about all those people patiently standing in line on the other side of the chairs?!?

And the clerk said, “I didn’t get the form, but that’s OK, I heard you on the phone, so you’re good.” We said, “Good? Like, do we need to do anything else?”

“No, you’re all done. You can go. Have a nice day.”

And we went!

We went past all those people standing in line, and they were actually quite nice. They didn’t throw anything at us, and they didn’t say nasty things to us or about us. Some of them actually rode the elevator down with us, cheerfully joking with Andrew that it was all his fault, but nobody seemed the least bit mad or put out. It was all the favor of God!

After lunch I took this picture of The Man and His Car.

Andrew with his silver ’05 Honda Accord!

A mere 90 minutes later, he sent me this text: “the mileage is 107,344 and the license plate number is TC5 X5J. it has license plates on it, a parking pass, insurance papers in the glove box, and air fresheners on the vents. 🤪 oh and it’s registered with the University.”

That all makes for one very happy young man!

And he owns a car!

Today Andrew handed Scott his final car payment! His 2003 Honda Accord is still titled in Scott’s name for the sake of insurance, but Andrew now has unlimited use of the car and full responsibility for all maintenance and repairs. A few weeks ago, sadly mere just days after he turned 18 (that birthday being the pre-agreed-upon termination date of our commitment to pay half his car maintenance and repairs), one of his wheel bearings went out, his brakes needed full replacement, and he needed new tires. Thankfully, Kim Hughes’ mechanic husband, Carlos, agreed to do ALL that work for only a very small amount above the cost of parts and tires. They live 50 miles away, so we did make several trips back and forth, and Andrew did have to hand over a significant wad of cash, but the car is now in great shape, and it is for all intents and purposes his.

Hats off to a great accomplishment for our youngest man!

A fond farewell

Right here in the throes of your busy life, Dear Reader, I humbly ask you today to pause for a moment of reverential contemplation as we reflect on the immortal words of our Beloved Dill Pickle (undoubtedly an intimate companion of Mr. Dickens): “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

The Pickle was born in 2000, grew up in a variety of homes, and was adopted into our family in mid-2015, a fee of $500 having changed hands in that transaction. The Pickle served Andrew well for over a year, transporting him from one location to another, if not in high style or extreme comfort, at least in a modicum of reliability.

The Pickle was proud as a peacock to have been outfitted with classy covers for both its seats and steering wheel in December, 2015, and while its cosmetic features did leave something to be desired and it did burn (leak?) oil at an impressive rate and its AC stubbornly refused for any reason to blow cold air, the Pickle did have an exceptional security system in that its doors could not be opened from the outside unless one knew how to apply the secret release code.

Andrew put 14,000 miles on the Dill Pickle over the past 14 months, but on September 2, 2016, he drove the Pickle for the last time. He (the Pickle) was making some odd noises and “felt funny,” causing Andrew significant concern. When he called me asking what to do, I told him to drive it straight to our mechanic, who later told me he was surprised the car had even made it to his shop. It arrived there sporting two shredding front tires, a damaged strut, and a broken axle; the right front wheel was in danger of falling off. Our mechanic said his conscience would not allow him to let the Pickle leave his lot unless it were repaired ($1200) or towed.

With tears of sorrow and heartfelt thanks to God for Andrew’s protection and safety, we unloaded all of his personal possessions from his cherished Pickle and went home.

Hearing the news of the Pickle’s demise while he was away on a mission trip, Scott agreed that the best thing to do would be to place the Pickle for adoption with our mechanic, who would then see to its being taken to a far, far better place. Papers for the Pickle’s final arrangements could not be signed until Scott’s return, and when he did return, Scott – who is known far and wide for turning challenging situations into profit – received from a wise friend the idea of selling the Pickle on craigslist.

And this he did today, for $500.  = )

So, while we are all sad to see the Dill Pickle go, we are all thankful that even in its passing, it continues to be a blessing to our family.

Yes, good has been done here.

The Pickle exits the scene. Andrew smiles, but, still feeling an emotional attachment for the Pickle, calls out “Take care, O my Pickle. Take care, O my Pickle. Take care, take care, don’t dare not care, take care, no air, no fair, take care, take care, O my Pickle.”

The end!

Jeopardy question: What is “TBD?”

Answer: The number of days (weeks? months?!?) between the time that one finds in one’s trunk the cooler of chicken breasts and pork egg rolls she bought at Sam’s TEN DAYS EARLIER and the time when her car no longer reeks of road kill.

NOTE: While the human gag reflex is indeed a powerful force, having coated the trunk with a solid layer of baking soda and having placed two half steamer pans of (unlit!) charcoal briquets in the seats of the car, a 17 year-old male who is desperate for wheels with better gas mileage than his only alternative (a 2004 Durango getting 15 mpg tops) will volunteer to drive said stench-mobile so his mother doesn’t have to. What a chivalrous son!

The plucky Dill Pickle – and God’s great faithfulness

Here’s the email I sent Scott on Friday.



What happened:

About 3:30 this afternoon, Andrew called me from somewhere in Branson, concerned that his car was making a weird, bad noise and felt funny. Something about the front tire(s) or wheel(s). I told him to drive it to Taney County Tire, ask them to look at it, and have them call me to tell me what was wrong and if it was safe to drive home.

The diagnosis:

Jeff called a few minutes later to tell me that the only way he could allow it to leave their lot was for it to be towed or repaired, that it was NOT at all safe to drive, and that he was amazed Andrew had gotten it there without having a very bad accident.

The right front strut (the thing that attached the wheel to the frame of the car) had broken. The whole thing was so loose that the wheel could have fallen off.

The left front tire was so worn on the inside that the interior wires or threads were poking through all the way around. The right front tire was nearly as bad.

The left front axle is broken.

When I went to pick up Andrew, Jeff showed me all these things. It’s quite bad.

Our options with Taney County Tire:

  1. Repair it. When one strut is replaced, you always replace them both, so the repair would involve replacing:

– both struts

– two front tires

– front left axle assembly

When Justin calculated the estimate, it came to $1200, but Jeff told Justin that we were good customers and “we have to help her out.” They agreed to do it all for $1000. I told Jeff we had paid only $500 for the car, knowing it was an old clunker, so given its oil drinking habit and its lack of A/C, it may not be worth repairing. I told him I would have to talk with you over the weekend and let them know.

  1. Trash it. If we decide not to repair it, I can take Jeff the title, and they will take care of hauling it off and getting it junked at no cost to us. Jeff said salvage yards aren’t buying cars. They are getting less than $100, if any, when they do that.
  2. Buy a car from Jeff. He has a car sitting there that a lady needed fixed. He did all the repairs and got it fixed up, and she couldn’t pay for it, so she gave him the title and he wants to sell it for the $1700 he has put into it. His comment to me was that it’s fixed up, it has A/C, and it’s safe. He said, “I would put my kid in it. Finding a car for $1200 is not easy. If you want this one as an extra car for $1700, let me know and it’s yours.”

He is awaiting my call to let him know what to do with the one Andrew has been driving.

Please contact me so we can discuss this and decide what to do.



Scott and I talked, and we agreed that Option #2 sounds best to both of us, so when Andrew asked this morning, I told him that. We’re not sure exactly what that will mean in the near future, but we did two cars for three drivers while Matthias and Jessica used Scott’s car for their honeymoon, so we know it’s possible.

Andrew and I had pulled all his stuff out of the Dill Pickle when we left it at Taney County Tire on Friday, He was very quiet then, but now he seems sad and rather wistful about relinquishing “his” car. (“It’s my first car, Mom. I have a lot of memories about that car.”) I let him talk. He said he wants to watch it get smashed. Wow. Now that would be tough for me, and I don’t know if we can even reserve a spectator seat for such an event, but I’m thinking that if it’s possible, it would be a healthy grieving thing to do.

Since Friday, Andrew’s been very helpful and considerate. He’s been giving me a lot of hugs. I think the realization that he (and/or others, including friends of his) could have been very seriously injured has made a big impact on him. I am still amazed that it held together long enough to get him to the repair shop with no accident or injury. When he got there, Jeff’s mechanic tried to drive it a bit to figure out what was wrong, but he only went a few feet – not even out of their lot – before turning it around and telling Jeff, “No way! It can’t be driven. It’s not safe.”

God was watching over my boy. I am deeply grateful. Damaged cars can either be fixed or junked. Not so damaged sons.

Vehicular if then

IF you are in your home when it begins a frog-strangling downpour,

And IF the rain is so heavy you that can barely see your mailbox from your porch,

And IF you later learn that cars on the highway were parking on the shoulder because they couldn’t drive in that kind of rain,

And IF, as you peer through the deluge, you have the distinct impression that the driver’s window of your Durango is open,

And IF you then race out to said Durango, getting soaked to the skin before you even fling open the driver’s door,

And IF you realize with sickening dread that the driver’s window is not the only window that is open; all four windows are,

And IF, as you scramble to get the key in the ignition to raise the windows, you notice that there’s an inch of standing water in the console between the front seats,

And IF you are puzzled and can’t figure out how such an incredible volume of water got from the windows to the middle of the vehicle,

And IF in your consternation you to look up and see that the sun roof is wide open,

And IF you manage to get the sun roof closed and all four windows up and there is still water streaming down the dashboard over the stereo controls,

And IF you trudge slowly back to the house (because once thoroughly drenched you know you’re not going to get any wetter),

And IF you wait till the rain stops and you go out with beach towels to begin sopping up the water in the Durango,

And IF, while you are sopping, it starts raining again so you give up in disgust,

And IF, an hour later the rain really does stop, enabling you to at least remove the standing water,

And IF, when you drive the car later that day, you are thrilled and amazed that things like the ignition, the lights, the stereo, and the AC all actually work just fine,

And IF you also try out the cruise control find that it does Absolutely. Nothing. At All,

And IF that knowledge depresses and discourages you because you use the cruise every single time you drive to town (meaning that you have become lazy and don’t want to have to bother trying to maintain a steady speed, and you realize, sadly, that you will now have to closely watch the speedometer every time you drive the car for all the remaining years you own it),

THEN, when five days later, the cruise suddenly starts working perfectly again,

You will be exceedingly grateful.

Jeopardy question: What is “Turn the radio up louder?”

Answer: My short-term solution to the Durango making a whining engine noise.

It’s nice to have friends who know what to do about car repair things when I don’t. At church last night, I asked J.R. to listen to it and advise me as to whether the noise was a “serious” noise that needed a mechanic’s attention, or a “trivial” noise that did not; you know, one of those noises that a twelve-year-old vehicle might produce just to make its presence known and grumble a bit.

J.R. listened, instructed me to pop the hood (bonnet for you Brit readers), and checked the transmission fluid. He said it was 1.5 quarts low. I noted where the dipstick was, way up against the dash, and asked where you put the transmission fluid in. Turns out it goes into that same hole that’s only about the diameter of my middle finger! I would clearly need a long, narrow funnel to do that, but J.R. said that if I took the Durango to our mutual friend, Bill, who works at O’Reilly’s, Bill would put the fluid in for me.

I thanked J.R. for his help and advice and then confessed that when it started whining about a week ago, it was intermittent; not all the time like it is now. I told him I didn’t like the sound of the whining (Philippians 2:14: “Do everything without grumbling or complaining.”), so I did what any wise woman would do. I turned the radio up louder. J.R. got a big belly laugh out of that.

Bill did put the transmission fluid in, and while it still whines a little bit, it’s much softer. But on the way home, the battery light came on. I passed that little problem on to Scott.

[Update: (2/26/16) The Durango is currently spending the day at Taney County Tire where it will be fitted with a new alternator.]

“It’s a bird! It’s a plane!”

Saturday evening I was sitting on the porch reading when I heard a pretty loud motor, like a really noisy lawn mower.  The sound was coming from over toward the creek, and I figured it must be something over at Altom Construction.  I ignore it and kept reading.

The noise continued, gradually increased in volume, and seemed to be moving a bit.  So, maybe not Altom.  I figured it was probably Mr. Gaar over mowing the Casa de Luz.  I ignored it and kept reading.

Very shortly, the mower noise got significantly louder, and I was quite sure it was moving.  It had to be those Lane boys.  Their family lives in our little “neighborhood” at the end of the road and they are very big into motorized vehicles.  Go-carts, four-wheelers, motorcycles of all sizes. . . they have a large collection of such things, so I figured they must be zipping up and down Coffee Road.  Too comfortable to bother getting up to go look, I just kept reading.

But suddenly the noise felt and sounded like it was right over my head!  And VERY loud.  And still moving.  Was it circling?  What the heck was going on?

I dropped my book and went out onto the front walk, and guess what was right above me?  THIS!

(This is it, but I didn't take this picture)

(This is the actual thing, but I didn’t take this picture.)

This thing – whatever you call it – was circling directly over my house and the horse pasture across the road!  It went over and around three or four times, and twice passed just over the tree Scott parks his car under.  The guy sitting in the thing was so close I could see him grinning!  He waved to me as I stood on the front walk, and I waved back.  WOW!  What a thrill it must be to sit up there and fly around!  It looked like he was sitting in a go-cart suspended from a parachute.  I had never seen anything like it, much less a demonstration like that right over my very own front yard!

I couldn’t tell who he was, but because he waved, I figured he must be one of the Lane boys, so I texted their mom:  “Is your son flying over me?!?!?”

She replied, “Ummmm.  I don’t think so… What do you mean???”

“There’s a guy in a thing flying over me.  No, I’m not hallucinating.  It’s like a go-cart in the air suspended from a colorful parachute.  I don’t know what it’s called, but I thought of you because you guys have all those things with motors.  He circled over my house and the horse pasture several times and then headed west along 160.”

Her response:  “Oh, funny.  Yeah, there’s a guy in town that has a couple of those.  Zanescapes Landscaping.  You’re right.  That would be something they would have!”

Absolutely fascinating.  I was hoping the guy would come back so I could get a picture, but I didn’t want to run into the house to get my camera and risk missing him, and [insert embarrassed face] I didn’t know how to take a picture with my phone.  By the time I got that figured out, he had indeed returned, but he was way out over the pasture and creek, just a tiny speck, so you can’t even see him in the pictures I took.

I later looked up Zanescapes online, found the picture above, and learned that this vehicle is called a powered parachute.  I then googled that and located this close-up shot of someone flying in a powered parachute, so you can better see the set-up.  The man flying above me looked just like this, wearing a helmet and tennis shoes, and I could see him almost as closely as the guy in this picture.

Some guy in a powered parachute

Some guy in a powered parachute

I am not an adventurous person, and I don’t know if I’d have the nerve to actually do it, but this surely does look like at lot of fun!

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