Gentlemen, start your engines

by Peggy on June 10, 2018

Sam has had a lot of car trouble lately. He has been driving a 2001 Toyota Corolla that he bought used 10 years ago.

This little car’s early life was in Corpus Christi, which probably means some hard miles in salt air. (We made sure it wasn’t ever flooded before we bought it.) The plastic parts have gotten so brittle, it’s just a matter of time.

Our first big tap on the shoulder was on the way to State Special Olympics a month ago. We blew a tire. Now, that’s no big deal, as long as you can keep your wits about you as you put that little donut of a wheel on your car along the highway in a strange city long after dark. But after we got two new front tires at the tire shop, the car wouldn’t start. For whatever reason, the bushing to the shifter cable broke while the car was up on the rack. We may have hobbled to the tire shop, but we had to be towed to the dealer for that repair.

Fun times.

On Friday, we got another big tap on the shoulder when Sam headed out to work. Turn the key and nothing, nada, zilch. He’d already changed the battery in January. From the problem in Bryan, I knew it wasn’t the shifter cable. And from my own truck’s problem last month, I knew it wasn’t the starter.

Since we would have had to pay for a tow, it was worth the gamble on replacing the ignition switch. Sam inherited his father’s talent for fixing things and, for whatever reason, I’m a fair troubleshooter. It took a few hours, but we knew we’d identified the problem when we compared the old and new switches. The old one had the telltale signs of an electrical short. And one of its three plastic brackets had broken off, likely setting off the slow chain reaction that jostled its way into oblivion.

I have been coaching Sam for months about planning to buy a new, or new-to-him, vehicle. Some of the plastic parts he’s had to replace on the car don’t have anything to do with its overall reliability, but many others do.

People without reliable transportation risk losing their jobs. Our local transit authority, DCTA, stunningly, has zero bus service to Denton’s industrial park where Sam and thousands of other Denton residents work.

I do not know why this is, but I’ll put that on my to-do list at work. (I’m a reporter for the Denton Record-Chronicle.)

Sam is reluctant to retire his car yet, and I can respect that. It still runs well overall. He hasn’t had a repair that’s cost as much as a new car payment.

After Sam finished replacing the ignition switch, the car cranked its Toyota self. He got a big grin on his face. For about $75 he bought himself more time.

For now.

 

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Overheard in the Wolfe House #313

by Peggy on April 6, 2018

Peggy: You’ve got to keep your boundaries.
Sam (talking about girl trouble): I have really strong boundaries, but she’s put a chink in all of them.

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Overheard in the Wolfe House #312

March 17, 2018

Sam (admiring the new dishwasher): It counts down the time left on the cycle. Peggy: Yes, that’s a nice feature. Sam: It’s a good thing it doesn’t have a spin cycle. (pauses) Because that would break all your dishes.

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Overheard in the Wolfe House #311

November 8, 2017

County clerk (assisting with passport application): Raise your right hand. Sam (raises right hand) Clerk: Do you swear, attest and affirm that everything contained on this application is true and correct to the best of your knowledge? Sam (grinning): I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good.  

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What we did on our Irish vacation

July 16, 2017

Paige put together a series of short videos that, as a good friend says, takes you with us to Ireland. We signed up for a bicycle tour with VBT.com, which kept us cycling for several hours a day most days. We spent most of our time along the Wild Atlantic Way: County Clare, the Aran […]

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Overheard on the Wolfe House #310

July 3, 2017

Peggy (seeing the clock read 9 a.m.): Well, good morning! How’s the change to afternoon shift? Sam: Good. I’m getting all my sleep back.

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Be the Bumper Guard

May 29, 2017

After my family moved from the Midwest to Colorado, we started a new Christmas tradition. My grandmother, who lived in Rockford, would send a little cash instead of gifts for Christmas. She forbid my parents to use the money to pay bills. It was to have fun, she said. So, Christmas Day, we’d all go bowling. As we grandkids had […]

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Love people. Cook them tasty food.

May 5, 2017

Penzey’s Spices started in my home state of Wisconsin. I’m pretty sure I’ve been a customer for decades, because I remember reaching for a Penzey’s jar the first time I made so many recipes that I’ve been making for decades … Roast chicken with lemon and rosemary … Mexican hot chocolate with cinnamon … Pasta with ginger and garlic […]

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Butterflies

March 5, 2017

Sam was spared the agony a lot of us get in the home stretch for a new job: the long wait between a successful interview and the offer. On Friday, one rolled right after the other for him. He had the best smile when he announced over dinner that WinCo hired him to work in the warehouse. Sam sacked groceries at Albertsons for […]

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Overheard in the Wolfe House #310

January 23, 2017

Sam: Today’s the first day. (pauses) I hope I like everyone. Peggy: That’s a nice goal.

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