And We’re Back–The Excitement Awaiting Us At Home

So we returned from our vacation on Saturday–we got home about 1pm after departing around 9 from De Soto, and we had to re-route around a traffic incident on Highway 44.

Now, when I return home, I have a little trepidation about what might have transpired while we were gone. I generally shut down the computers and whatnot, and I don’t recall if I ever had an instance where the machine failed to start after a vacation–I had an old Packard Bell with Windows 95 that was prone to throwing a shoe on reboot, requiring me to restore from the company-provided CD many times, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility. And who knows what else? At the very least, a thorough housecleaning, at least as thorough as we get at Nogglestead even though we cleaned ahead of the trip. And lots of laundry.

The heavily armed pet sitter managed to keep the Vikings at bay. None of the cats were forgotten and locked into some confined space without food or water for days, emerging emaciated or not at all. But the trouble began immediately.

The trip home was not a bad ride, but we were all a little strung out from the road, to coin a phrase (c’mon, man, I didn’t turn the page to see it was already written). After pulling into the garage, I hit the button on the remote to close the door and nothing happened. The motor didn’t even start and stop. I noticed the light was out on the sending unit for the electric eye, but it was weird that the motor was not starting and stopping with blinking lights at all. Which probably meant that the sensors were not misaligned.

So I went down to my desk to fire up the old computer, which is not old, but is getting boggy, so that I could investigate troubleshooting steps for this particular garage door opener and system. I was thrilled when I replaced the old one that finally had some failing video components because, after five or so years and countless installations, it took forever to start. Well, a couple years later and the installation of countless programming languages, frameworks, and tools, and it, too, is starting to slow down. It hung up somewhere, so I unplugged it and restarted it again.

I went to strip the bed and replace the linens while the PC tried to start a second time. I loaded the washer and started the normal cycle which generally predicts 56 minutes but sometimes does not. Nogglestead had had some storms roll through while we were gone, so I reset a couple of clocks and returned to the office. Where the computer was still coming up. When it did, finally, I was pleased to note that it was a Windows update that bogged it down–and it wanted to restart again, so I let it.

Meanwhile, I prepared the lawn mower for my beautiful wife and/or oldest son to mow. Generally, that means inflating the front tires which tend to flatten over the course of a week and to gas it up. Which is a bit of an incomplete preparation session as it will be revealed later.

The computer finally came up, and I got some troubleshooting advice for the garage sensor system. Which turns out to be the sensors themselves. I find that the Lowes in Republic has replacements. Before I head off to get the replacement sensors, I check on the washing machine. It has not advanced on the clock; it’s still saying it’s going to take an hour for some reason.

When I return from Lowes, my wife has mowed the perimeter–she mows around fences, buildings, propane tanks, and trees since the youngster is a Mustang Calhoun. He takes off on the lawnmower.

Before I get to messing with the garage door sensors, I head inside to use the bathroom. As I pass the washing machine, I see it has not completed its cycle. Instead, I get an error message that indicates that Gilgamesh might have defeated my washing machine or something.

I open it up, move the blanket around a bit in case the load became unbalanced, and start it again (Spoiler alert: Ub is the error code for Unbalanced, not Ur).

The new brackets for the garage door are of one piece; the sensors are affixed to the brackets internally, unlike the existing ones which slide onto brackets (and off the brackets when bumped, which is how we’re familiar with the misalignment error condition). So I started to take off the transmitting sensor, and as I unscrewed one of the wires, the exposed copper bit of it broke off. Apparently, the jostling the sensor had taken broke the connecting wire where the break was not visible. So I stripped a little bit of the wire and re-connected it. And it worked. So now I have an extra set of $35 sensors to either return for a refund in the next thirty days or store in my garage “just in case” until I move out. Tentatively, I have scheduled moving them from my work bench where I left them for March 2022, so.

Fresh from this triumph, I checked the washing machine: Ub, unbalanced. It had spun the blanket to one side of the washer. This particular new unit does not have the central post that prevents this. But it does have a glass lid so you can watch it work and get dizzy. And it makes noise. So it’s modern. I rebalance the load and restart it, again. But it’s still taking forever.

So I sit down for a moment. And then the wife and the son come down to tell me there’s a problem with the lawn mower tire. Apparently, one of the rear tires (not one of the ones that routinely flatten and hence one of the ones we test and fill every time we use the lawnmower) was low, and mowing in it have collapsed it and knocked it off the wheel–and probably damaged the tire and hopefully not the wheel. So lawnmowing was curtailed until I could repair or replace the wheel which might not be on Sunday.

Speaking of which, Sunday….

No, wait, let me back up a bit to the previous week, before the vacation.

The week before we drove to De Soto, we had a lucky flat tire. Well, maybe not.

On Tuesday, after our trip to the gym and before a planned trip to the food bank to make a deposit, my youngest heard a hissing as we got out of the primary truck. I listened, and it was hissing, and I palpated it and found a screw sticking out of it. Which gave me a learning opportunity to find where the jack and spare were on this truck, which has not had a flat in the three years we had it (well, except one time when a tire was losing air, but I drove it to the tire store because it was only a couple blocks away from where I discovered it). It also provided a learning opportunity for the young man to learn how to change the tire.

So we took it to the tire store for a repair. After they fixed the tire, they suggested some service for us. Our regular garage did not turn off the Maintenance warning light nor replace the sticker when we had an oil change a couple weeks prior, so the tire store offered an oil change. Also, we were out of coolant.

Gentle reader, I changed automobile maintenance professionals last time because I had to bring my pickup back a couple weeks after the normal service (and only a couple miles on the odometer) when they fixed my immediate problem and offhandedly mentioned I was out of coolant. A couple of weeks after service. Which meant they didn’t check it with the oil change, or I was leaking and they didn’t notice that I’d bled it all out in a couple of weeks. Either way, we changed to our current garage which is closer to home, which means we can walk home or get a courtesy shuttle ride. But now we had a potential similar issue with the new truck, the primary truck, the one we were planning to drive to De Soto in a matter of days.

After picking it up at the tire store, I dropped it at the new garage which is about a half a mile down the road. As they explained, the radiator was leaking up top, which meant the coolant was burning off without leaving a pool of coolant for me to see in the garage. They replaced it in a couple of days, but I was left with a vehicle with a suspect coolant system and a patched tire to drive through the forest to De Soto.

I did not check the coolant level on vacation for the same reason I didn’t check the tire pressure on the rear wheels of the lawn mower: I am, fundamentally and at my very core, lazy.

So, Sunday:
When we pulled out of the driveway and tried to close the recently-repaired garage door, it did not close. Which led to my fuming, fussing, and probably not swearing too much as I was on the way to church, but it did give me something to think about and to work on whilst my family went to an amusement park. I mean, I was going to watch movies, but I had things to repair or try to repair but make worse.

So we get back from church, and my son notices a hissing in the rear again. It’s not the same tire–the tire store rotated the tires after the repair, I hope (they were supposed to, but I see markings on the right rear tire that make me wonder). It’s the primary truck, the one they wanted to drive to the amusement park. I left it outside the garage as the door was manually closed and locked and resolved to test the pressure before they left. At this point, I suspected it was the pneumatic rear suspension bleeding off some air–this truck has a neat-o suspension you can adjust with a switch, which I also expect I am going to soon find out is not only neat-o but really, really expensive.

Check the garage door: I did not tighten the screw holding one of the connections on the transmitting eye, so in the better light of the morning, I properly positioned and tightened the connections. Or so I hope. Regardless, the garage door is working again. But for how long?.

I checked the coolant on the primary vehicle: It was not out. I checked the tire on it also; it appears to not be losing air. So the family went to the amusement park.

I tried reseating the tire, but it was beyond my simple ways, so I started wondering where I could get it replaced. The dealer where I bought the machine twelve years ago and that has done a couple tire replacements and has sold me parts before closed, so my early investigations indicated that I might have to run out to Rogersville, about forty minutes east, to get a replacement. On Monday.

The washing machine apparently corrected itself, which means that sometime today, maybe, we will be caught up on laundry from vacation.

And as of now….

On Monday, at 7 am, I called the tire store to see if they could replace a tire on for a John Deere, and they could–and get it back that day. Which they did.

When I was picking it up, I asked the fellow if the new tire had roadside assistance and road hazard warranty in case I had to make a George Jones run. The damn kid didn’t get it. Maybe I should have said “Vince Gill Run”:

Never mind; that song is 28 years old, which means the damn kid would be too young to get it.

On Monday, we also had our well pump tank and electronics replaced; the pump had been short cycling for a while, and although the existing pump tank was only seven years old, which is on the short side of their lifespans, it was emitting water at the air valve, so out it went. On the plus side, I suppose, the price of the tank only doubled in that span.

So given the events of this weekend, gentle reader, do you think Brian J. will experience more trepidation when leaving his house for a couple of days or less?

Also, do you think that the trick of not thinking abstractly about possible ways our society might be breaking down or could break down by focusing very intently on day-to-day life is working for Brian J. this week as physical things break down around him? Does this cri-de-coeur mean Brian J. is a man-boy who cannot handle the rigors of being a responsible adult?

My guesses, weighted as I am the aforementioned Brian J., are no, no, and probably yes.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories