Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Struggle That Is

It's not easy here.  I have to take care of and fix everything that breaks.

On almost no money, too.   Thank goodness for youtube.

My car was leaking oil at the filter which usually means the filter gasket is lifted or torn or twisted or something.   So off I go, and buy four quarts of oil, an oil filter, and an air filter for the car.  I'm trying to keep it alive, in its old age.

To  me it looks good, like nothing has changed.  But it is scratched and dented and rusted here and there.

Like I don't feel different, being over 60, than I did when I was 30.  But the feeding tube that is me, mouth to butt, with its extraneous outcroppings of flesh, all designed to help feed the tube, are feeling the weight of age.

Which makes keeping up the aging machines and structures more difficult.

The old trying to upkeep the old.

I'm always looking for ways to streamline anything and everything.

I redid the garage after getting some shelving to hold my traps.  Looks nice out there now, I think.

The car oil, and various filters set me back $35.  At least my labor's free.  I don't charge myself.   Cracking myself up this morning.  But I hurt my thumb doing the filter changes, can't remember what I did, do remember thinking 'that's going to hurt later'.  And now its later and it does hurt like the dickens.

I think I rammed a sharp edge of metal under my thumb nail, trying to loosen the darn oil filter.  Now I think I'll lose my nail.  I can't even touch the top of my thumb without wanting to scream.

I found an old finger splint, not made for a thumb shape, but kind of bent it, and turned it around, so two prongs supposed to support a finger now encircle the tip of my thumb, protectively.  It helps.  I've even learned to type without the use of my right thumb.  How's that for adaptation?

Then yesterday, roads sort of ice free now, I decide to go out.   I get all ready, load some recycling in the back to get rid of, turn the key in the ignition---nothing but some clicking, the clicking of a dead battery.   Shit.

I call AAA.   It's the last AAA call I get for assistance this year until I renew my membership next May.   After this, if I get in trouble, I can still call them, but I have to shell out cash.   Shit.

The guy who comes is a nice guy, works pretty much 12 hours a day six days a week, he says, because its the only way he makes it.   He shows me a photo of his cat.  Loves her, he says, and she's so happy to see him when he comes home at night.  I give him some dried catnip twigs to take home to her.

He starts the car with a portable charger, jump starter, then hooks up his little machine to assess my battery and I knew it, it had a bad cell.  I had suspected it was going south because my headlights, even before one failed last week, often seem so dim, like are they even on?

When he tells me the machine he hooked up says my starter is good and so is the alternator, my heart swells with pride for my old car.

He has batteries on the truck he could sell me, but they're too expensive.  After he leaves, I head to Bimart, go in, and buy a battery.   $89 with the $10 core charge.   I go out and install it myself in their parking lot.  People stare.  Finally a woman comes over and says "that's awesome you can do that yourself."  I look at her, like "doesn't everybody?"

I take the old battery back inside to get the $10 core charge immediately refunded.   My bad thumb is throbbing again, but I ignore it.  Once home, I pop an Aleve, do the usual clean up and sit in the chair someone gave me, blanket over me, cats atop me, and nap.

Car still runs.  My place is warm.  I am still alive.  I have cats.  Life is good.


  1. Your aging body does really, really well. Love your determination.
    I hope your poor thumb is hurting a little less now.

    1. Aw I'm going to lose my thumb nail, which can be a slow process.

  2. Oh, wow. I adore your sense of humor and resilient spirit. Hope the thumb feels better soon.

    1. Me too, on the thumb thing.

  3. Go, Strayer, go. Nothing can stop your can do spirit. As always, I'm impressed.

  4. “Awesome you can replace a battery yourself”—that IS pretty funny considering who you are, but she just saw a woman, and stereotyped you as needing a man for such things.

    How wonderful that the guy had a photo of his cat. Too bad the cat doesn’t see him more often.

    I’ve often had a problem with getting the old oil filter off if I hadn’t put it on myself. Sometimes, I can turn it by hand, but I’ve also had to use a filter wrench and even drive a screwdriver completely through the old filter and then use the handle for leverage. I hate doing that because there’s no going back once that filter is punctured. I’ve also taken a chisel and a hammer and unstuck the old filter by bumping it on the flange in the direction of travel.

    1. I've done the screw driver thing too, quite often in fact, but you are right, there's going back once you puncture it and I had cats to pick up that afternoon. So I try every other method first. It's such a cramped space, I have to contort my arm to get down from the top but still, I don't like laying on the ground either to reach up under. It was when reaching down in front of the radiator for the oil filter I rammed my thumb nail somehow on some sharp edge. Yeah, that's probably one lonely cat, with her person working such hours.

  5. P.S. Your laser kitten plays in the same way Ollie often does. Sometimes, I get all three cats going at once, but usually just the youngest two, Brewsky wanting to play by himself or not at all.

    1. Even Miss Daisy, now 17, will chase the laser pointer still, now and then, but most of my cats are now so elderly I don't get a lot of play action like I used to. I miss it.

    2. "I don't get a lot of play action like I used to. I miss it."

      Same here. It seems like every time I play with them, they stop sooner. I can see why people keep getting cats--it's because they miss that kitten energy.

      One of the nurses where Peggy worked had a cartoon on her locker that showed a determined cat looking in the mirror while saying,”Today is the day that I catch that damn red dot!”

    3. I've been chasing the red dot of life for years, Snow. Ha ha ha.

    4. "I've been chasing the red dot of life for years, Snow."

      I know you have. This is you:

      As for me, I sit here in profound discouragement, and this is why I admire you.

  6. We shouldn't be impressed by a woman installing a battery or changing her car oil and filter, but we just are because it is unusual, and for many men it is too now. Hope your thumb feels better soon. As I know, can't do much about the ageing body, except keep using it.

    1. “We shouldn't be impressed by a woman installing a battery or changing her car oil and filter, but we just are because it is unusual”

      I’m impressed for that very reason. I know that my wife, Peggy wouldn’t do it unless she had no choice, and I wouldn’t even want her to because I’m afraid she would hurt her back. If I saw a woman (or a man for that matter) doing it in a parking lot, I would watch her for a moment to see if she needed help because batteries can be heavy and hard to maneuver into place.

      Strayer, this subject of minor car repair brings up another thought for me. Peggy was off hiking in the mountains with two guys, and when they got back to the car, they had a flat tire, and none of the guys could force the lug nuts off, so when she got home and told me about that, I started carrying a three-foot length of galvanized pipe in case I was ever in that situation. Les Schwab paid for whatever expenses the car owner incurred, but it was still an aggravation.

      As for losing your thumb nail, the thumb nail that I shut in the door after breaking my back a few years ago has fallen off twice, and I’ve no doubt but what it will continue to do so my whole life long because the thumb itself stays perpetually swollen, and the nail never looks right even when it’s fully grown out. I would just suggest to you what the doctor suggested to me, which was to keep the nail on with tape for as long as possible.

    2. Yes, I would say it now is unusual for many men to know how or do small chores like changing a battery, themselves.