Tag Archives: Car Talk


Random thoughts, my usual fall-back blog topic, seems too, well, random. Musings sound so much more meditative, more thoughtful. Since I’ve been on a short four-day weekend “vacation”, my time to muse meditatively has been productive.

Technically, this was a “staycation”, although it was really anything but. “Staycation” would suggest “staying”, easing back onto the patio chairs, and doing nothing but reading, resting and drinking something tall and cool. In reality, these four days have been more movement-oriented, though there have been quite a few tall, cool, ones.

So technicalities aside, these are some of the musings I’ve mulled over during the past three and one-third days:

1. Massages are well worth the money spent. They’d probably be even more worthwhile if the MASSAGEE paid attention to the MASSAGER’S caution to “take it easy for the day…don’t do anything heavy duty.”  That cautionary note must have missed the part of the brain that understands and processes messages, because two hours later, my electric Mantis appeared on my patio. Freshly repaired, and bearing shiny new rotors, it begged to be tested. So I hoisted the little tiller to my herb garden and happily tilled away. My husband offered to move some flagstones for me, then stood back and grinned. Only he knows how truly excited I was to be able to use the Mantis. Just a year ago, I wasn’t in any shape to do gardening of any kind, and we weren’t sure when or if I’d get to do so again. I even pulled weeds and smiled…much to the chagrin of my massage therapist, Joy Stemen. who chided me for ignoring her.

2. Listening to Car Talk on my morning run makes me wonder what car mechanics think when someone comes in with a car problem and explains the solution as suggested by Click and Clack. There’s probably a lot of eye-rolling. Anyway, I’ve been planning my own call to Car Talk. All the callers are from big cities…never any little towns like Bluffton, Ohio. I want to be the first. And I have the perfect problem. A few months before we retrieved our 1997 Dodge Caravan from our daughter, she’d turned on the van only to find the dashboard dark. Nothing lit up. Hm…she drove to the Dodge dealer and explained the problem to the woman at the service desk. The woman grinned and accompanied her to the van, where she gave a hearty smack to the top of the dash. Bingo! On blinked the dash lights. Her comment? “Fixed that problem, eh?” This happened again a few weeks ago, so Fred whacked it once and they blinked back on. But I’m just curious enough to call the  Magliozzi’s for their take on this curiosity…if only to hear them mangle “Bluffton”.

3. Yesterday, we moved more of our daughter’s “stuff” to her new apartment. Ike, of course, went along for the ride and as soon as he stepped in the house, the cat went into hiding. We looked everywhere. High, low, under beds, in closets, behind the fridge. No Casio. Anne, however, was not giving up. After about 30 minutes of looking, she got down on the floor and found a hole about four inches in diameter, leading to a larger space in the cabinet area. Peering inside, she saw two bright eyes staring out at her. You have to understand. Casio is not a kitten. He is a more-than-full-grown cat. Huge, in fact. Almost as big as Ike.We managed to entice him out with some catnip. How can a cat squeeze his body into a hole smaller than his head?

4. I am of the belief that one cannot have too many white shirts. My daughters used to laugh when I went shopping because they could predict I’d return with at least one white shirt. This is true. I still do this. I’m sure my therapist would have some Freudian explanation for this fixation. If I lined all my shirts up by color, there would be a gazillion white ones — each different — followed by other hues in singles. Oh, except for black. I am also of the belief that one cannot have too many black shirts. I’d say it is fortunate that the girls no longer get to examine my shopping bags, but it doesn’t matter. They come home and go straight to my closet to count the whites. And the blacks.

5. Why do some people have such nice, pleasant dreams and I have such stupid ones that wake me up at ungodly hours? I used to blame this on my mother’s side of the family, because she has equally odd dreams. But a Pannabecker cousin recently mentioned that my dream sounded like the ones she has. Guess I can’t blame it on the Suters anymore. The most recent one involved someone’s dogs having puppies in the car while my oldest brother was driving. Cute though the puppies were, they were expelling worms. Ewww…but even that one doesn’t match my all-time worst nightmare of pulling nails from my skin. In handfuls.

6. My friend and running partner, Mary, and I received the same Mother’s Day card. Mine came from my daughter, hers from her father-in-law. When I got mine, I called my daughter to thank her and ask if they came in other names. Dead silence on her part, then a big guffaw. “Mom, think about it. What other name would work in the “punchline” on the inside?. Eat, drink and be…?” This proves to me…once again….that there should be a club of Marys. We could count how many of had to smile politely as old men teased us as children, “How does your garden grow?”

I wonder if other people muse their days away like I do?

Irons and toasters and bread machines, oh my!

For some reason, my husband and I have purchased and pitched more small appliances than seems possible. Maybe it’s true that they just don’t make things like they used to. After all, according to one of the Car Talk brothers, the 1967 Dodge Dart is the most perfect car made because it was so simple. Today’s cars are so complex that the maintenance and repair is challenging.

But I digress….sorry, just listened to Click and Clack this morning and the Dodge Dart was on their minds. Back to small appliances. In our household, an iron can work fine one day and the next day be totally useless. Nothing more frustrating than turning on the iron and coming back a few minutes later to find it still cold.

This is true also of toasters, breadmakers (we’ve been through five in the last 20 years), hairdryers, dust busters, and alarm clocks. I think my parents had the same toaster and iron for the first 40 years of married life. In fact, I think my mom gave me her original Sunbeam iron a few years ago. I killed it. Don’t tell her.

Fred’s dad’s theory was that we didn’t take care of them. This is probably true, especially of the bread machines. I use it a few times a week and most times, “forget” to clean it out. So…things get crusty in there. But still.The death of the first bread machine was no one’s fault. It was my all-time favorite one, because it had a glass-domed top, so you could really see it rising. It also looked like R2D2.

One afternoon about 20 years ago (this was in house number two or three…I’ve lost track), I’d fired up the bread machine and was upstairs minding my own business. Looking back, I realize I should have stayed nearby. I remember that it seemed a bit off balance while in the kneading cycle, but I ignored that. Awhile later, it seemed like the whole house started to shake and then we heard a loud crash from the kitchen.

R2D2 had decided to take a walk off the counter, breaking the glass dome and spewing bread dough all over the floor. We all had a good laugh and put that one out to pasture. Subsequent machines have never been quite as entertaining, but certainly less expensive.

Anyway, our iron gave out a few months ago, and the thrifty part of me fetched one from Et Cetera, our local thrift shop. It weighed about 50 pounds but worked semi-okay. Today I decided it was time for a new one — thriftiness forgotten — and found a nice, lightweight replacement at my favorite local hardware.

I figure if something goes wrong with it, I’ll go visit my favorite hardware store owner. Or call Click and Clack…maybe their skills with cars extends to irons.

Next purchase…a toaster that toasts in less than 10 minutes.