Money, Peeps, My Lawn Mower, and some Photos

Two things of concern

  1. Why so much money is spent on political campaigns
  2. Why movies are ranked by how much they earn instead of how many people watched.
  3. Peeps

OK, Three things. I was wrong, or I just can’t count. You choose.

First, lets discuss Political Campaign Money – it is my asserted opinion that spending billions of dollars on political campaigns is an astounding waste of money that could be used in a far better manner. Like, feeding hungry people in the world. That, and I think we can all agree that those who collect the most money aren’t necessarily the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

Movie Money – just because a movie earns a ton of money doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most popular. I’ve actually spent good money, more than once, to see movies that I didn’t like at all. When I shared that information with friends, they went to see it, too, and didn’t like it either. Still, the fact that they went added to the monetary total for the period of time covered. I think those who attend movies should fill out a brief survey about how they liked the movie. And how good the popcorn was. Each theater would then upload their data to a central collection point where popularity of the movies would be accurately captured based on LIKE or NOT LIKE, not on the price of a ticket.

Peeps – In case you aren’t familiar with Peeps, they are a marshmallow confection that has miracle healing qualities that aren’t well documented in medical journals. I know this is true because Diane told me so and I’ve been complicit in helping her carry out unauthorized use of Peeps to help her. So far she’s convinced me that Peeps cure hiccups, something she discovered a long time ago. I’ve seen it work, numerous times, for Diane and multiple Grandchildren. Our Grandchildren. Another Peep solution is they’re great for removing popcorn hulls that are stuck in your throat. So far, those are the only two significant cures about which I know. Since both hiccups and stuck popcorn hulls are unpredictable, Peeps must be administered as those events occur. By taking them, however, we don’t know if taking them for those events also serves as a preventative solution for other maladies that aren’t allowed to manifest. We’ll probably never know. If anything changes with this medial miracle, I’ll let you know.

Oh, wait! There’s four! My Mower. The weather here is probably the important news because it’s been so nice everyone around here has been able to mow their lawn using the grass catcher. That’s significant because normally this time of year the grass is too wet for any mower to actually propel the clippings through the plastic tube into a bag. The clippings just jam up the tube making a nasty mess that needs to be cleaned up. When I mowed it I didn’t take a chance on the tube getting plugged up by just leaving the grass catcher laying there on the ground. I’ll make another tour around the yard tomorrow to pick it all up, after I play golf. It’s going to be 70 degrees, I’m told.

This is Jeran, Jennifer and Daniel’s youngest, waiting for a concert to start.

These guys were the concert: New Legacy Project from Nashville.

Our back yard after I mowed it a couple of days ago. Really. A couple of days ago.

Our cat, Breezie, sleeping on her head.

I dog I encountered some place. I’m getting a sign like this, and another one that says, “I’m not working now, you can pet me”

Lydia visiting with a lizard on her shoulder.

My mower before I mowed it.

Ahmed, the Crossfire, and TLWTBA

Yesterday I visited the Walter’s domain to attend Ahmed’s going away party. Ahmed, in case you don’t know, is a foreign exchange student from Pakistan who has been living with Daniel, Jennifer, Lydia, and Jeran since last summer. From day one he was part of the family and didn’t miss a beat by including Diane and me, calling us Grandma and Grandpa. That was pretty cool. He’s a special young man and we can’t wait to see what his future has in store for the world. Jennifer has become something of an expert preparing halal food for Ahmed and it may become a regular food choice for them even after Ahmed has returned home.

He leaves next week and will be missed by everyone. But, thanks to social media, he’s just a click away.

Also, yesterday, I returned the part I bought at O’Reilly’s Auto that I was sure would resolve the problem I’ve had with the Crossfire. The error code reported a bad Crankshaft Position Sensor. I think I already shared that previously but that’s OK. I’ll pretend you forgot.

Anyway, I had to special order the part on Saturday because it wasn’t on the shelf. I was a little surprised by the price because it was over double what I expected. However, I needed the part, and paid the price. I picked the part up Sunday morning and went right home to install it so I don’t have to drive Diane’s truck any more. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a nice truck and I really like it. But, I kinda like the Crossfire more at this time.

I carefully unwrapped the part and noticed it looked a lot different from the pictures I saw during my search for the part. Double-checking the part number on O’Reilly’s website revealed that what I’d paid such an exorbitant price for was a Camshaft Position Sensor, not a Crankshaft Position Sensor. Not the same critter.

I boxed it up and took it back to O’Reilly’s and explained the error of their ways. I’m pretty positive that I requested the correct part but the thing is that when I did it, I also purchased the Camshaft Position Sensor for Lydia’s Envoy. It’s her graduation present from me. She doesn’t know that yet because I didn’t wrap it. I just gave it to her. I can kinda understand why the fellow who helped me (the Manager) made the mistake because of the way the transaction went down, and I wasn’t upset.

When I returned it I was helped by a young man who was apparently new at O’Reilly because he was just learning their computer system. Thankfully, he had me for a customer because I don’t get upset about stuff like this. It just isn’t productive. So, I made it a good experience for him and we got things straightened out. Turned out the part I needed was in stock (their last one) so I got that and half my money back. What a deal.

Back at home, I gathered my tools and went to work. It didn’t take long before I had the old one out and the new one in. I cleared all the computer failure codes and cranked it up. The engine purred like a sewing machine and the engine light stayed off. Just to be sure, I checked for failure codes, but there weren’t any. I guess I can now call myself a Crossfire mechanic. Sure, it was simple, but I did it. All by myself. And only burned my hand 4 times.

Tomorrow I’m taking The Lady With The Broken Arm (TLWTBA) to the doctor who was already scheduled to see her on June 13th, Cedric’s and Don’s Birthday, and the day Ahmed leaves. Apparently the doctor saw something, we think, because she called today and requested that she be delivered to the office tomorrow morning, bright and early. So, that’s what we will do.

Now I must go to bed so I will be ready to roll in the morning.



Nuts, Bolts, and a Mower Engine

Just checking in to calm those who may have been concerned about my health and welfare after that marathon run to Bremerton a couple of days ago. I’m just fine. For those of you who may not be concerned about my health and welfare, for any reason, that’s OK. Lots of times I’m not concerned about my health and welfare, either which usually ends in a trip to the emergency room for stitches. You would think it’s because I’m careless, which is definitely a contributing factor, but the main reason for my accidents is because I’m concerned about your health and welfare all the time.

It’s distracting.

Makes me lose focus.

You’d think I’d learn, right? Especially after all those lectures I get about being more careful. Oh well, I generally mend OK and the many scars I have are like the rocks I pick up on the beach. I know what I was doing when I got it, and where I was at the time. They are memories.

Now I’m happy to share the good news that I’ve successfully earned the right to call myself a Small Engine Repair Guy (SERG). Remember that mower engine I tore apart last week? Well, today I got it all back together, didn’t have any engine parts left over, and it runs like new. I’m so happy! There’s more to this story, of course, and it’s another one of those frustrating trips, but the end result was worth it.

It all started yesterday morning when I took Diane’s truck to Emmert Motors to discover why the backup lights are always on. I may have mentioned that I semi-resolved the problem by taking the backup light bulbs out. It was tempting to just leave it at that and not bother taking the truck in for a checkup. There was always the chance of a more serious underlying issue, however, so I drug myself off the couch at 0745 so I could honor the 0800 appointment.

I checked in with Tom, gave him the keys and the backup light bulbs, then went to talk with Steve for a while. I always do that when I visit Emmert, visit with Steve. Sometimes I go there just to visit with Steve. He’s my favorite car salesman and he always has candy on his desk. After a short visit I went to the lounge area and fiddled with my iPad until Tom appeared and asked me to follow him. I did.

He took me to the garage and demonstrated for me that the backup lights were functioning just fine. He believed me that they were on for 2-3 days, like I reported, but they were working fine now. He just said to bring it back if it happened again, preferably during the failure. So, apparently I fixed it by taking the bulbs out. Go figure. But, we’re keeping an eye on those things, believe me.

After that morning trip, I returned home and at a sandwich in preparation for tackling the lawn mower engine. Diane insisted. She was preparing for her trip to the court house to finish ups some community service she was assigned. No, wait. That was a couple of weeks ago. She finished her community service. She was going down to join her friends on the counting board for the current ballot.  Yeah! That’s it!

After the sandwich I attired myself in some of my better dirty work clothes and made my way to the church. It was raining more than not, so I was planning on getting wet because the lawn mower is stored in a small shed with no room to work on anything. As it turned out, though, the sun shined most of the time which allowed me to sit in the wet grass to do the majority of my work which was to put everything back together.

I got busy by first scraping off the old crank case gasket using a starter shim I happened to have from the last time I installed a starter on the old ’68 Chevy truck. I meant to take a chisel or knife, but forgot, but the shim seemed to work just fine. Just took a while. Made my hands sore, too.

Then I cleaned up all the parts as best I could, considering the circumstances, and went about the process of discovering where all the parts, bolts, and screws went. That really wasn’t a huge challenge because all you have to do is match up bolts to the holes they fit in. For instance, there were 10 bolts holding the crank case together and they were long ones. They wouldn’t fit anywhere else. This was pretty much true for the entire reassembly process. The tricky part was the new cam shaft which required me to match two little dots together on the cam gear, and the shaft gear. It took a while, but I did it. It just didn’t happen as easily as I had anticipated. From the YouTube video I watched it seemed to be pretty simple.

When the last bolt was tightened, I set the engine in the proper place on the mower frame and manually turned engine over to see what happened. No way was I going to try it with the starter first. No sir! Good thing I did, too, because it spun around nicely for about 1.5 rotations then went “clunk” and stopped. Turning it backwards the same distance produced the same result. So, I figured I must have missed the mark when lining up those two dots. However, I’d had about enough small engine exercise by that time, called it quits and went home.

I was only on the couch for a short time, recovering, before Diane returned home, released from the Counting Board for good behavior. We went through what has become a daily routine of “what do you want to eat,” and “I don’t care,” then Diane got a couple of egg rolls and some rice. She suggested that I eat the last Kung Pao TV dinner, which I did, along with a couple of egg rolls of my own. We have a large box of them in the freezer. It only takes 3.5 minutes for heat a couple of them up. It’s 4 minutes for the TV dinner.

This morning I got up with that stupid mower engine buzzing around in my head, mentally preparing myself for the necessity of dismantling it again to see what I did wrong.

As I was pulling the mower out of its little garage, it started pouring rain so I just picked up the engine and carried it into the mower space and went to work.

I took out all the bolts, removed the crank case cover and stared intently at the new gear I’d installed yesterday with great care. It only took me about 30 seconds to see that I’d not matched the cam gear dot with the crank shaft gear dot, but with a gear on the crank shaft that was just different that all the others. About 20 teeth around the corner was the little dot I’d missed. I firmly believe that the folks who build Briggs & Stratton engines make their crank shaft gears like that just to fool folks like me with the intent of getting them to try cranking it with the starter before checking to see that it works. Well, I previously proved that I didn’t fall for that tactic. No sir! No, I didn’t get it right the first time, but I didn’t break anything, either. All I wasted was a little time.

I released the rocker arms from the cam shaft push rods, turned the engine to the spot where the dots would line up, slipped the cam shaft into place just as easily as the guy on YouTube did in his video. The crank shaft cover went on just as easily, like the video, and things just fell into place. All those bolts and nuts went back like I had been doing this kind of work for years. Once together, the engine turned freely, as it should. The little rocker arms danced up and down just perfect, the carburetor almost attached itself, as did the exhaust pipe. When I looked around my work space, there was only one piece left, an odd looking bent wire thing that I hadn’t removed. It had fallen off something when I took the engine apart and I had no idea if it was even part of the process because I’d just found it laying in the lawn.

I had a feeling it belonged somewhere around the carburetor and studied that area for a long time before giving up, cleaning up, and driving to the Scappoose Sears store to look at the new mowers and see if I could find something similar on them. No one questioned me as I wandered around the dozen or so mowers on display, lifting the hoods and staring intently at the  engines. I can only surmise that they didn’t want to take a chance they’d have to talk with me because I was pretty ratty looking, even though I had arrived in a pretty nifty little car.

This investigative effort proved to be a waste of time so I went back to the church and dialed up Bing to see what I could find.

Finally, I found a reference that gave me the answer. The left-over piece was the part that chokes the engine when the accelerator lever is pushed to the maximum level. So simple. Well, now I know and think I could repeat this job quite easily, without YouTube, in a fraction of the time I’d spent learning.

Once the engine was together, I bolted it to the frame, installed the pulleys, connected all the wires, and whatnot, then sat in the seat. I didn’t try starting it right away, but just sat there a bit, resting. Actually, I was casting good mojo at the engine, willing it to turn over and run. Apparently mojo works because when I turned the key it fired right up and ran like a top. I only let it run for a few seconds before realizing that I’d failed (again) to replace that 48 ounces of oil I’d drained from the engine at the start of this process.

Withe new oil installed, I started it, and ran around in circles in the little yard next to the shed before putting it all away. There would have been more circles, but it was raining pretty hard.

I’d done it! I fixed the mower! The small engine repair guy said he could do it in 5 hours, at $80 an hours, plus parts which I paid about $80 for. So I saved the church $400, minimum. All it cost me, in addition to those parts, was some of my time.

To put that in perspective, considering I was making about $40 an hour when I retired the second time, had I been charging for time it would have cost the church about $480 in time plus parts.

Good thing my time is free, right?

In my eyes, that time was well spent because I’d learned a new skill. I’ve busted a lot of those little engines over the years, but had never been compelled to tear one apart to see what makes them tick. That’s odd, too, because I generally tear everything apart right away to see what’s inside, but not engines. Turns out they are actually pretty simple and made me realize that had I been a little braver, or inquisitive, I could have saved a lot of money over the years by fixing those things instead of replacing them.

Now I’m a mechanic. Really, I am. Once my hands heal up, and my sore muscles go away, I’m pretty confident I can talk someone through this process should the need arise.

All that’s missing is the hood. It’s all good.

Maybe I’ll go find my Bubba Teeth and make my own video.

60+ to 80+, a broken lawnmower, and other Stuff.

Yup! That’s what happened. The temps turned on a dime from a high of 60 something to 80 something. The weather things I’ve looked at show 81 for today, but our thermometers registered 86. Now, my challenge is to get my lawn mower cleaned up before the rain comes back day after tomorrow.

I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but it may as well. I thought I heard that we’ve had more than 141 days of measurable rain this year so far, a record. That’s kind of tricky, I think, because there have only been 123 days registered in 2017.

Could be I have no idea what I’m talking about which is not news. I rarely do. But, it’s fun trying to make sense of what I think I hear. Diane’s solution for that is for me to wear my hearing aid, but that takes all the fun out of it.

Now, the lawn mower … it’s the one that Floyd and Nancy bought for the church. Just recently it decided to not start so I tried to get people to dig out all the small engine repair people they know so we can take advantage of the good weather. Thankfully, Howard mowed the church yard so all we need to do is clean up the cut grass. Having the mower run would help.

Well, I didn’t get any valid offers of help, except from Don, so I went to school on YouTube and figured out how to do it myself. Armed with my new-found knowledge I took my tools to the church, rolled the mower out, yanked the engine out off the frame (with Howard’s help),

and dismantled the engine down to a bunch of little parts, just like I learned on YouTube.

Doing so revealed that the bad part is exactly the one I expected it to be based on my recent education, a dysfunctional cam shaft …

It looks nice and almost new, but there’s a part broken that helps get the engine past the first compression point during the start process. It was in little pieces in the bottom of the crank case. Now I have to get a new one and figure out how to get everything back together again. I need to do that fast because I’ll forget where all those screws and bolts go in a few days. That’s all it takes. I’ll take a photo of any success I might have. If I fail, you’ll never hear about this again.

Here’s what I had for lunch yesterday … leftover meat loaf. It was really good.

I think there’s about a pound of meat there, but it’s all protein, something I can eat a lot of. Keeps my B-12 levels up there in the stratosphere.

Here’s our trailer while I’m check to ensure the lights work before we left Devil’s Lake State Park for the trip home.

While we were enjoying ourselves at the beach, the bamboo took advantage of our absence and reached for the sky. Might have to trim it down a little.

This afternoon Lydia’s softball team had a double-header with Parkrose. Lydia pitched 4 innings of the first game and played 2nd base the last 3 innings of the 2nd game. It was a lot of fun. They lost the 1st game 3-2 and won the 2nd one 8-4. It was a good day. One of the highlights was when Jennifer was trying to talk with Lydia over the cement block wall of the dugout, but couldn’t hear her. So, she did this …

She had sneakers on so didn’t slip, but it’s something she would have raised heck about had one of the kids, or me, done this. Just so you know, she extracted herself from this precarious position without injury. Made me proud. It was a good day.

It’s time for me to head to bed, after I let the dogs out to bark at something and pee in the tall grass out front. Ozzie just had a $37 haircut but that doesn’t stop him from plowing through the grass in search of a spot where one of the big dogs may have relieved themselves. He’s predictable, and doesn’t care about hygiene at all.

Good nite.

Winter Golf in Oregon

It was a beautiful day in the neighbor hood today. So good, in fact, that my friend JP deemed it worthy of losing a few balls on the golf course. That venture began right around 10 am. Here we are ready to tee off on #1. That’s JP on the left.

The first hole wasn’t too bad once we got past the first ditch. That’s where balls land and the ground is so saturated that the balls just bury themselves, never to be found again. Hole #2, below, is fairly flat and doesn’t drain well at all so this is what we had to contend with. Fortunately, the tee box is to the left of the little lakes and neither of us landed in the water.

Then, on #3, things got nasty. From here on to the end it was difficult to find firm ground for the cart and we wound up pushing it more than riding in it, I think.

So, we had the best of both worlds: golfing and 4-wheeling in the mud. I took home proof for Diane.

The end result was that we had a lot of fun because we didn’t seriously keep score. It’s hard to be serious when you actually make a good drive that lands in the fairway, but when you get to the spot, the ball just isn’t there. The only thing you get from searching for it is muddy shoes. Thank goodness they’re waterproof.

After leaving the golf course, I stopped to talk with Cousin Don for a while. I knew he was home because he had the shop door rolled up. He was sitting in the middle, eating his lunch, feet propped up on one of the many large tools he has in his shop. The tools are mostly related to the construction, upkeep, and resurrection of race cars. I pulled up a chair to rest my weary bones next to the absolutely prettiest engine I’ve ever seen. It’s brand new and doesn’t have a speck of dirt on it. Yet. Seems a shame to put it in a race car that’s more than likely to get smacked around. But, that’s what he’s done most of his life. I count my blessings whenever I get in a mechanical fix because Don has all the answers and replacement parts.

When I got home I found Diane hard at work cleaning the house. That’s what she does when I go out and play, probably because I’m not in the way. She stopped long enough for lunch (crab louies), then gat back at it while I went outside and started the old truck. I haven’t done that in a couple of months so was pleased when it started right up after cranking it and pumping the gas pedal for about thirty seconds. It’s a brute to start when the engine is cold, and runs like a top once it’s warmed up.

Satisfied that the engine still ran, I shut it down and got busy picking up debris from the front yard. Most of it was residue from one of the rhododendrons that Ziva had fun with when we had snow worth playing in. She loves to chase sticks and she especially likes rhododendrons because their branches snap in half really easy. Consequently, she shattered bits and pieces of it all over the place. It was work, made me sweaty, but I got it picked up and hauled to the burn pile.

Now it’s time for me to scrape the rest of the dirt from my torso so I can sit in a nice chair and get ready to watch Oregon tussle with Calf in one of the Pac-12 semi-final games. Should be a good game.

See you tomorrow.

Wrenches, Grease, and a Blond Mechanic

Lydia has a 2005 GMC Envoy that has a couple hundred thousand miles on it and it all the sudden started running a little rough and the engine would die while she was waiting in the Dutch Bros drive-thru.  She said it also dies in the Burgerville drive-thru but that’s not as critical as a failure at Dutch Bros. This has been going on for some time and I’ve encouraged her to bring it to our house so I could help her change the spark plugs, as a start, in an effort to resolve it’s issues. Today she found some time in her busy schedule to drive it up the hill with her dad, Daniel, so we could get busy.

The first order of business was to remove Diane’s truck from the garage so Lydia could insert the nose of the GMC to get it out of the rain. It was one of ‘those’ days here. Spotty rain with an occasional flake of snow, and some sunshine. Pretty typical prelude to spring in our neck of the woods.

Once the hood was up we spent some time looking at the engine trying to figure out where the spark plugs lived on the engine. They weren’t very evident no matter how hard, or long we stared at it. Finally we gave up and came into the house and looked for help on the internet. It turns out that the engine is an in-line 6 cylinder, not the V-6 I presumed, which accounted for the reason I couldn’t find the spark plugs on the side of the engine. Funny thing. All the spark plugs reside on the top of the engine which would make one think they would be easy to see and remove. But, this is no ordinary engine. You see, each spark plug has it’s very own Ignition Coil that sits on top of the spark plug so there are no wires running from a distributor like a normal engine. Very interesting.

After watching a YouTube thing about how to remove the coil to access the plug, we went back to the garage. At this point in time Lydia had figured out that she was going to be doing all the work so I gave her a pair of coveralls that Jack gave me that I can no longer wear. They shrunk, it seems. But, the fit Lydia pretty good.

I got my tool kit out and we (Lydia) went to work taking things off the engine to gain access to the coil.


Although Lydia is a girly girl, she’s definitely not afraid to get dirty and she loves to learn new things. She also figures things out very quickly. She dove right in and dismantled all the necessary ‘things’ and swapped out the plugs like she’s done it a hundred times. She only needed to be reminded that removing bolts you turn counter-clockwise.

The number 6 cylinder was up under the dash-board and needed a stretch to get to the necessary bolts and things. She tried standing on a stool but that didn’t work well so she just stretched as far as she could and it turned out to be just the right amount to gain access to #6.


Here’s the door I made for under the Walter’s house the other day. I told you about it, but didn’t have the photo. Just found it.


Finally, all the plugs, which cost about $30 at O’Reilly’s, were installed and Lydia fired up the engine. It ran, but it was still rough which means that at least one of the ignition coils is bad. We’re hoping it’s only one because those things cost around $40 each. Lydia is going to get that info from her friend, Justin, who just happens to have recently extracted failure codes from the Envoy. Lydia thinks Justin may have mentioned that #1 and/or #6 were bad, but she couldn’t remember.

Without that info, and the fact that it was getting dark, we called it a day and got cleaned up. I offered her rubber gloves but she declined.


Then she and Daniel headed home. Armed with the proper knowledge I know she’ll get it fixed without any more professional supervision from me and the internet.

Here’s a plate of nachos I ate the other day that I forgot to share. They were quite tasty but I should have held off on a few of the onions.


That pretty much ended the day for us except for the old iMac that I was going to donate to our church. It’s back on the Man Room floor running like a top, but it wouldn’t even power up when plugged in at church. I found that a mystery that must be solved tomorrow. In the mean time, I loaded some software back on it so it will be useful for the Church Ladies. Specifically, Jeannie, our Treasurer. She needs something reliable. What she currently uses is an old Windows XP computer loaded with QuickBooks Pro. Sadly, it’s Windows only software so I can’t transfer it. But, I found some interesting free Accounting software, and some Excel spreadsheet templates that may serve the purpose. We’ll see about that.

Jeannie grew up in Modesto, California and went to High School with George Lucas. As far as I know, George is not related to our friend Larry although they have the same last name.

While working in the garage Ziva started sorting the contents of my garbage can and was a bit upset when I told her it was only Sunday night and the garbage doesn’t go to the street until Monday night.


Since she couldn’t do the garbage, she took a nap.


Actually, that photo is from yesterday when we were watching TV. Ziva watches TV like my brother Jim.


And this one is just for fun …


I forgot to mention that Diane drove me and Jean, her Mom, to Longview after church today where I ate a Senior plate of shrimp & fries as well as nine pieces of chicken, a salad, and an ice cream cone. I didn’t eat as much as I normally do because I’m on a diet.


Golf, Thermostats, and the Old Truck,

I had to go golfing again yesterday because I said I would. Diane thinks it’s OK that I golf a lot. I suspect she think by going more often I’ll get better at it. Boy do I have a surprise for her. Unlike most other sports, where that’s true, golf has its own rules when it comes to getting better. One day it’s good, the next day it’s bad. So it goes. The up side of golfing is that I generally get to drive the cart. That’s fun.

Daniel’s PT Cruiser started overheating on him so he brought it over to see if I could figure out why. After looking under the hood for a little while I decided that the thermostat had given up and crossed the bar. For those of you unfamiliar with crossing the bar, it’s a Navy term for “died”. When a friend passes, they’ve crossed the bar. I suppose that could be taken in a couple of ways because of the nature of sailors, like, it could be a statement that a sailor had crossed the bar when he was thrown over one during a fight in a foreign port. You know how those sailors drink, right? Well, you at least know how people THINK those sailors drink. Most commonly, however, crossing the bar simply refers to the point a ship is on its own after leaving port and the harbor pilot departs. Still, it’s a nice, symbolic, mental image for us old guys to consider as we progress toward the end of our lives. “Crossing the Bar” is also a poem.

Back to the PT …

Since neither Daniel nor I had ever changed the thermostat in a PT Cruiser, it was a journey of discovery for both of us. I have a perfectly good service manual in a readily accessible folder on my computer, but referring to it would have removed the mystery of our journey. Instead, we just studied the situation and started taking bolts off things to gain access to what we both determined to be the problem area. Turns out, it’s a complicated process because the turbo engine we were working on was most certainly built by very small people with very small hands. Consequently, gaining access to some bolts whose removal were critical to our endeavor, was problematic and resulted in the loss, forever, of two of them. Each of us lost one, and listened intently as they clattered their way into the tangle of wires and tubes, never to reach the ground. This, of course, required a trip to ACE for replacements. Thankfully, we were had retained possession of a nut of the right size that enabled Daniel to procure the necessary replacements. In the end, Daniel was able to get all the bolts back into place using a more careful approach, knowing that one little slip meant another trip to ACE as soon as all the replacement bolts and nuts were lost. Fortunately, none were lost. One of these days those lost bolts will secure their freedom on the highway and bounce along until they come to rest amidst the rocks and debris near the guard rail somewhere along Highway 30. A hitchhiker may find them and know exactly what they are for but more likely they will sit there for years, rusting, until finally they are once again one with the universe. Happens all the time.

During interludes while Daniel was shopping for parts, I worked on the Old Truck, replacing spark plug wires. I decided to do that when the engine started sounding a lot like a John Deere tractor. It was running on 6 or 7 cylinders because one wire was parted at the spark plug, and another was partially burned through as it rested peacefully on the incredibly hot exhaust manifold. It was time. Part of the process of preparing the wires was to attach the spark plug ends after making sure they were the right length. I didn’t both with cutting them because I didn’t want to. I just took one off, selected a new one that was close to the proper length, then put it all together. As a result, some wires are a bit long for the plug to which they are attached, but I remedied that by winding them around tubes and hoses in the engine compartment. None of them will be allowed to touch the exhaust manifold. They should last a long time. Cousin Don provided me with a handy tool to properly crimp the little metal clips on the wires and I’m thankful for that. Don is my favorite mechanic. He knows everything and has all the tools.

Diane told me there’s a cruise in at the Elks Club today. I might drive the old truck out there just for fun and look at all the nice cars.

Oh ya! Diane’s been bugging me for years about painting it so I began that process a few days ago when I came across an assortment of rattle cans in the basement. I decided to use what I have and see how it works out. The first can only lasted to cover the left front fender. It’s OSHA yellow, meant for hard hats, I believe. I have some green and red that I will try on other parts as time permits unless Diane hides them from me, or throws them away.

What do you think?IMG_0454

Yeah, I know. It needs another coat and I got some paint on the chrome, but it will come right off with the right chemicals. While I’m at it I may as well put the windshield wipers back on it so I can drive it in the rain, and maybe put the right side mirror back together – it fell apart and the mirror part is laying on the dash. When I want to use it, I just hold it and look behind me.

It’s only a little after 9 am and I hear Diane tiptoeing around so guess it’s time to get productive. First thing up is to print the church bulletin and the church’s August newsletter. That’s my job.