Monday, November 18, 2013

The 90th Post: Prairie Grl Never Stops Learning

Yes, it was my birthday week-end (which is just a little more specific than my birthday month, season, or year), and I received 2 brand-new car batteries as very unexpected gifts.  Dang, if I am not a lucky grl!  And Sears had better not sue me for using a picture of one of their models, because I gifted these batteries to myself, and my wallet is now blowing dust.

So the week-end starts out like this:  I come home on Friday, and decide to move Betty Blue Destiny, our 13 year-old Sable station wagon, out of the garage so I can get to the mower.
Out Betty Blue has a few more dings and isn't quite as shiny.
rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..... goes the engine, and that is pretty much it.  Being totally not mechanically inclined, my first course of action is panic and hysteria, but then I remind myself of the age of the car, and the fact that in the four years I have owned it, I have never dealt with the battery, and it is probably time for this to happen, although it is extremely inconsiderate of Betty Blue to do this the day before MY BIRTHDAY. But then I remind myself that my personal battery is probably not running as strong as it once did, and I should be sympathetic not accusatory.

My first thought is to call for a tow, but then a little voice speaks to me. "Sharon," it says, "tomorrow you turn 58.  Do you think it is time to learn how to jump start a car?"  I head for the family computer.

God bless Google, because within the next 30 minutes, I watch no less than five videos on how to use jumper cables.  I have always had a set in the back of whatever car I am driving because my father told me to, but I have never actually tried to use them myself.  Instead, I have used the pathetic "damsel-in-distress-at-the-side-of-the-road" ploy, which, as I age,  I am finding less and less effective.

At this point, I need to state that I am very fearful of anything electrical in nature.  I just about go into cardiac arrest when I have to change a light bulb.  When removing a switch plate for a painting job, I envision the screwdriver slipping right into that outlet and ZAP, fried Prairie Chicken Sherry.  Not only do I watch the five videos, but I also have to keep running upstairs to check and see if what I had under my hood is the same as what You Tube is portraying (there is an interesting metaphor in the making...). I also take notes to aid me during the actual process of possible electrocution.
A bit worse for wear due to my
sweaty palms.

Fortunately, my other car, a Toyota Corolla, is parked next to Betty Blue.  This 2009 model doesn't have enough character to be given a name.  We just call it "the silver car."  Well, after several trips downstairs to review the videos, many referrals to my notes, and having my 17 year-old standing in the garage to witness my possible death, I get Betty Blue started and deliver it to the best mechanic in Madison (Matt at Integrity Automotive Service). Cheers, applause, ovation--I solve the problem.

The story is not over.

Sunday morning, we are down to one car, so I tell Maia that I will take her to work so that I can run a few errands and then spend the rest of the day continuing my birthday celebration--collaging, reading, eating, relaxing...

"The silver car" does not start.  I lift the hood to find that this 2009 vehicle has the original battery.


Now, we have a car, alone in the garage, with no possible energy source, and I discover that I can't get my "newer model" into neutral so that my able daughter can shove it into the driveway so I can get a jump.

Back to Google.  Within 20 minutes, I now know how to find the "manual override switch", and with my trusty screwdriver, I get the car in neutral, and Maia shows her phenomenal strength.  Her friend arrives with a Ford 150 truck, and I show her my incredible new found talents with jumper cables. I only refer to my notes twice.

The car is running.  Now, what to so with it? This car has to start on Monday at 6:15 AM so I can get to work.  It is Sunday.  I must find someplace that sells and installs car batteries on the Lord's Day. After another session with Google, I find that Farm and Fleet is the answer.  Farmers never get a day of rest.
Testosterone Heaven. 
For our Gentle Prairie Readers who are not acquainted with Farm and Fleet, it is also called "The Man's Mall."  It sells everything from tools, to deer stands, to pig feeders, to fishing rods.  It also has the most extensive Carhartt collection in the upper Midwest.
Young men not included.
My problem is that the appointment is at noon, and it is now 10:30, and I must keep this vehicle running. I attempt to solve said problem by going to the grocery.  Maia stays in the running car while I go in and do the shopping.  By then it is 11:15, and I am feeling terribly guilty over my ever-increasing carbon footprint. I head to Farm and Fleet, which is located in the middle of a field and miles away from anything approximating  a trendy Madisonian coffee house, and I resign myself to the fact that I will be spending the next hour "shopping."   

Two hours and 45 minutes later, my shopping cart is rattling with a sturdy brown belt to wear with my jeans, two red bandanas, a set of "As Seen on TV" rug grippers, and a can of baking powder.  For some reason, Farm and Fleet does have a small baking aisle.  I glance briefly at the battery chargers, but since they have cords, I decide that I won't purchase one during my birthday week-end.  My olfactory system is awash with the smell of tires, horse liniment, chicken feed, work boots (new, not used), and testosterone.     

I drag myself over to the automotive section and ask why I haven't been paged.  Well, evidently they forgot.  My car has been ready for over an hour. 

Now I am home.  I have poured myself an adequate glass of Pinot Grigio.  It was an extremely expensive birthday week-end, and I don't have any delish clothes (save for the belt and the red bandannas) to show for it.  But wait...I have learned how to jump start a car, override my automatic transmission gear shift lock, and find deer butt removers at Farm and Fleet (This was probably my most disturbing discovery of the week-end.).

I am a life-long learner.

Prairie Sherry  


I am mourning the passing of a dear lady, Joyce Rubesch.  My thoughts are with her sons, daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren, two of whom happen to be my fabulous godchildren. Joyce, you touched many lives.   


1 comment:

  1. I love you because you are a stitch! and an inspiration!

    I hug you because you've lost a friend. I will do it in person soon. xo