Archive for January 2, 2008

Light bulbs and pump houses

The temperature is plummeting in Florida, which has already caused a state of emergency for the people that supply fresh fruits and vegetables to the nation. Even though the temperature here in NE Florida is still 39 degrees at 4 p.m., the wind chill is in the 20s. I asked SwampMan while we were in town if we needed to get light bulbs for the pump houses (two). He assured me that he had a plentiful supply of incandescent bulbs that should provide enough heat to keep the pumps from freezing. Shortly after we arrived home, he stuck his head in the office door and asked what I had done with his light bulbs.

“Huh?”

“My light bulbs are gone. What did you do with them?”

I use the screw-in type of fluorescent bulbs throughout the house in lamps, closets, outside lighting on the porch, and even in the barn because I’m too lazy to drag out the ladder and change light bulbs every few months they’re more energy efficient.  If anything in the house burns out (rarely), I am not about to replace it with an incandescent bulb.

“I don’t even go into your shop. It is nasty with (shudder) large bugs in there. Ewwwww.”

“Well, SOMEBODY took the lightbulbs AND the trouble lights I used to put on the pumps.” This was said with a dark accusatory look at me, as though I had sold his lamps and bulbs on E-bay when he wasn’t looking (not a bad idea, come to think of it).

Well, at least I can still go to town and get some incandescent light bulbs to keep the pumps from freezing tonight. Since our elected village idiots officials have made various incandescent bulbs illegal over the next few years, I suppose then I’ll have to put a politician in the pump houses to keep the pumps from freezing. I’m not sure I have enough composting space for the bullsh** that would accumulate, though.

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Don’t Say a Word

“Don’t say a word. Not one! I mean it! I do NOT want to hear it” said SwampMan in reply to my comment “It’s running good, isn’t it?”

On the last week of work before a 2-week vacation at Christmas, his truck had started occasionally missing. It was more of a feeling of hesitation as it was driving down the road than something that could be heard. It got progressively worse through the week to the point where I worried about getting stranded. “I think you have either a spark plug or a plug wire problem”, I said.

“Oh, listen to Little Miss Nonmechanical here”, he scoffed. “You leave the worrying about mechanical stuff to somebody that knows what they’re doing, like me, and you worry about what you’re going to cook me for dinner tonight. Besides, it couldn’t be the spark plugs or wires. I changed them 6 months ago in June.” Somehow we got our last-minute Christmas shopping done, hindered somewhat when he insisted that he drive me in his ol’ truck instead of letting me drive my somewhat newer but higher mileage vehicle whose odometer would never see 200,000 miles again.

The Friday or Saturday after Christmas, we were supposed to travel 3 and 1/2 hours north to take the little granddaughter to see her great grandparents, and to bring the little grandson up for a return trip to ride the tractor because it was too cold and rainy when he was up visiting the week before. The day after Christmas, I asked SwampMan if it wasn’t about time to start with the mechanical stuff. “Nah, we have PLENTY of time” said SwampMan. “Probably the injectors need cleaning, and I’ll pull the throttle body tomorrow and check it and replace the gaskets.”

“Okay, but I don’t want to get stranded somewhere without cell phone service with two little children, so that thing better be fixed!”

“Would you just leave this to me and quit worrying? You always have to find something to worry about. RELAX!”

Over the next few days, my part was to stand there and be impressed with his mechanical acumen and hand him the wrong tools occasionally. “What, SwampWoman, after all those years of marriage, you don’t know the right tools?” you may ask. Well, not when he asks for the doohickey on the shelf in the shop without specifying what, exactly, a doohickey is, and which particular shelf in his shop it is squatting on. We did not take the grandkids up for a visit at the great grandparents over the weekend. Or the beginning of the week.

“Did you check the spark plugs?” I asked when the EGR valve replacement didn’t work.

“It is NOT the spark plugs!”

“But did you CHECK THEM?”

“NO I DID NOT CHECK THEM. YOU WANT ME TO CHECK THEM? FINE, I’LL CHECK THEM!” He unscrewed a spark plug. “SEE! IT’S FINE!”

“Don’t yell at me.”

“I. AM. NOT. YELLING. AT. YOU!!!” Odie started barking and growling at him on the porch.

I started laughing. “Oh, really? If you aren’t yelling at me, you big doofus, explain to me how come the deaf dog can hear you and is afraid you’re threatening me?”

“Get in the damn truck. We’re going to the parts store.”

“Fine. But you should really change the plug wires if the spark plugs are okay.”

“DAMNIT! You don’t know ANYTHING about mechanical stuff. You are the most unmechanical person I know.”

“Well, I know how my vehicle acted when I needed new plugs and wires, and now your truck is starting to backfire, too, just like mine did.”

He muttered something about a temperature sensor and off we went. He changed it. No response. He sent me off to the parts place for an oxygen sensor. No response, although it didn’t backfire quite as vigorously as before. He muttered something about an ignition module as it did feel like something wasn’t firing right. “Like if the plug wires were bad?” I asked helpfully.

“THE WIRES ARE FINE!”

“Well, you’ve spent $200 for various parts that didn’t fix the problem. I just think that maybe you should check the obvious/cheapest/easiest thing first before you spend lots more money.”

“I don’t want to hear it. I am finished for today.” He put stuff away, muttering to himself about women who don’t know what they’re talking about but try to stick their noses in anyway, but not naming any names.

Early this morning, he was outside working on the truck. I peeked out the window, and saw new plug wires getting attached. I went back and ironed clothes and listened to the engine revving powerfully. No backfires.

The back door opened. “HEY! I’m going for a test drive. Hurry up and get out here.”

We left the driveway and were a little way up the road. “It’s running good, isn’t it?”

After being warned about not saying a word, I admired the scenery for the next 30 miles.

“Go ahead. Say it. You were right, and I was wrong.”

“But baby, I didn’t say a THING.”

“I could tell by your grin that you were thinking it. Um, don’t tell anybody about this, okay?”

“I won’t tell a soul.”

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A Hard Freeze is a’comin in Florida

“Oh dear Gawd in heaven. Momma’s gone slap crazy, and what will become of us all now?” seemed to be what Odie the faithful dog was thinking as he stared at me with a wrinkled brow, wagging his tail doubtfully and jumping out of my way as I went back and forth between the last surviving flower bed and the maple trees.There was supposed to be a hard freeze tonight, and I had forgotten to protect the flowers. I’d put a thick blanket of leaves over them earlier in the fall when frosts threatened which had worked, and the summer annuals were still blooming their little hearts out. I wanted to reblanket them and save those cheerful colors in the face of winter if I could. Luckily, the maple trees had dropped their leaves right at Christmas, which explained why I was out frantically raking the leaves after dark and causing my dog to wish that he could dial 9-1-1 and get the appropriate medical support to come out for me before it was too late.

We shall see what happens. Hopefully my last surviving flowerbed (surviving because in a fit of anger I had completely enclosed it in chickenwire to prevent chickens from eating my precious flower seedlings, the ever-ravenous sheep from grazing them to death, and ducks and dogs from trampling them). All of my other beloved flowers lived far too short lives and succumbed to the various animals wandering around.

Now I’m ruefully contemplating a rapidly swelling (and itchy) finger, and wondering what variety of spider’s slumber I rudely interrupted.

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