Sicker 'n a dog. Back soon.


75 Years

A Date which will Live in Infamy
More photos at link.


My Day at the Mechanic's

I've been at mechanics all day. All. Day. I left at 8:30 this morning and have been dealing with mechanics until give or take 4 pm.

I think we're getting closer to winning the war of the cars.

First: The Jaguar, also known as The Grinch who Spent All the Christmas Money on Itself.

It's not the fuel pump. (YAY!!!)
It's not the vacuum lines. They're pristine.
But the check engine light keeps coming on and as soon as I go over 2500-3000 RPM, the car tries to dump me into limp mode.
I hate having a bright red sports car I have to drive like I'm 90 years old. Try going up a hill without going over 2500 RPM. Semis pass me on uphills.

My mechanic cleared the codes and the history. Car ran like a dream. He decided to see if he could get the codes to come on for him (they only seem to come on when I'm driving.)

There's your first clue.

THIS TIME, I rode shotgun while he put the car through its paces. Every other time he's tested the car, I haven't been along. Beautiful car. Ran like a champ. 5000 RPM with no problems. THIS is the car I bought.

I dropped him off to pick up the Durango from Danny's work and I drove the Jaguar back to the shop. Within 2 miles, the light was back on and it was throwing fits.


He ran the codes again. Flight Data Recorder only. Called Jaguar in Louisville. Flight data?!? WHA?!? It's a car, not a plane. Jaguar/Louisville says: Something is wrong, car is trying to black box the problem. Car is not telling us WHAT is wrong. Not helpful. Arrange to bring it back on Thursday and leave it so my mechanic can fine-tooth-comb it for 4 or 5 hours and try to discover what the **** is going on with that **** Jaguar! (He said he wouldn't charge me to find the problem. I love my mechanic.)

Cleared the codes.  I head home. To say I'm bummed is the understatement of the century. 8 hours at mechanic's and I'm where I started.

Bah. Humbug.

Now, when my mechanic clears the codes and the history, my heater/ac resets and shuts off. When I turn it back on after he has reset the codes, it always reads 24C. I change it to F, set it at 70, hit the direction and recirc buttons and off I go. It is usually the first thing I do after I buckle in and start the car.

This time, I didn't do that. I never turned it on. There's your second clue.

I was half-way home before I realized I hadn't reset my heater...and the check engine light hadn't come on, either. (I noticed when I managed to pass a gravel truck on an uphill without any problem.) Called my mechanic. No, he never resets the heater when he is test driving the Jaguar. He tells me to pull over, shut the car off, and restart it with the heater going.

First time I hit 3000 RPM with the heater going, the check engine light lit up like a Christmas tree and the car started trying to go into limp mode. (I also noticed when I turn on my defrosters, my radio fuzzes out.)

Somehow, running the heater makes my car stop working. YAY!!!!

(((Okay, that sounded psychotic, but at least now we have a place to start looking for the problem!!!)))

Things are looking up.

On to The Durango.

Sigh. I spent the morning having the airbag recall fixed at the dealer (No, I DON'T want to buy a new truck!! Have you seen the prices on those things?!), then handed it over to our mechanic. The mechanic thinks the repeated codes may be caused by a evap controller switch getting the wrong voltage (I'm calling it the wrong name but that's what it is.) He suggested letting him run more tests before we go dumping more money into it.

I'm good with that.

So that is where we are:
Durango's check engine light is on. It will go back to the shop after the New Year.
Jaguar's check engine light is on. It goes into the shop Thursday for a week.

I can deal with that. Life is good.


My Car is the Grinch

I spoke too soon about the check engine lights.

Last night, on the way home from daughter's Kung Fu class, the check engine light in my car came on. Again. I pulled into AutoZone, had them run the codes, and proceeded to buy an $80 mass airflow sensor. Early this morning, I drove said car and sensor to the mechanic's. They fixed it, cleared the codes and sent me on my way.

I made it about a mile before the check engine light came back on.

This time, the codes were reading bank 1&2 o2 sensors lean. I happen to know for a fact those sensors are good...which means the lean reading is probably from a faulty fuel pump.

(((This is me beating my head against the wall in time to Adam Sandler's "Ode to My Car".)))

The fuel pump costs $400. It is Christmas time. We be broke. The fuel pump is just gonna have to wait until January. For the foreseeable future, I am car-less.

To take my mind off of our car/money/holiday predicament, I decided to go home and cook. So for today's post, here is my recipe for Turkey (or Chicken) Noodle Soup.


1 Turkey (or chicken) carcass 
1 onion, quartered
3-4 carrots, peeled, cut in 2" pieces
1/4 celery seed or 2 stalks of celery, cut in 2" pieces
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 TBSP salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 gallon water

Combine all ingredients in large soup pot. Simmer for 1-2 hours until any meat falls off the bones. Cool.

Strain the broth. Separate meat from the bones. Discard bones and veggies. Add meat to broth and bring  back to a simmer. Add:

1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced

Cook until veggies are soft. Add:

1 bag egg noodles.

Cook until noodles are soft. 
Eat with crackers in front of a cheery fire and forget your (car) problems.


Refrigerator Reflections

It's payday, the cars are running (knock on wood), and I'm up early-ish making the grocery shopping list for the next week. Things have calmed down enough that I think we'll be able to start cooking and eating at home again. I may even be home from the mechanic's long enough to get my house picked up and the laundry done. Okay, so I'm an optimist. Don't judge me.

Where was I going with all that...Oh, I remember! I was looking at my grocery list and realized that most of it is fresh fruits and veggies (and noodles. There is that). The only really refrigerator dependent items on my list are the meat (consisting this week of 2 1/2# of chicken breasts, 12 oz bacon, and a package hot dogs) and the dairy (1/2 gallon of milk, a pint of sour cream, a couple sticks of butter, and one small brick of cheese). Everything else only needs cool storage or is shelf stable. (Leftovers don't count. They're only refrigerated until they feed the pigs, feed the dogs, or turn green and are thrown out.)

So my question is: Why do I need a refrigerator that is taller than I am and three feet wide, kept at 40 some-odd degrees, if all I need it for is about 4# of meat each week and a bit of dairy? Worse than that, I have a chest freezer in the basement also, that is currently keeping a box of powdered milk and some tins of cocoa powder in suspended animation. Most of the time, I store the meat in the freezer until the day I use it anyway, since I have to buy larger packages and portion them out for rationing--WalMart doesn't sell small amounts of meat. So really, I pay to run a full-size refrigerator 24/7 to keep less than $10 worth of dairy cold. The rest of the food is stored in it for convenience sake and from cultural habit.

How does this make sense?

And the funniest thing is that my fridge is full. I have the ultra-mega size mayo, the large-size upside-down ketchup bottle, the jar of mustard, a bottle of maple syrup, a jar of apple butter, three (!) open jars of pickles, two half-empty bottles of salad dressing...you get the idea. Probably the same things that are lurking around in your fridge. Most of them are so chock-full of preservatives and stabilizers, they don't even need refrigeration.

When did we as a culture change from buying small bottles of what we needed for the week to buying huge amounts of food that required unpronounceable chemicals and a refrigerator to keep them "fresh" for months or years? And more importantly, why? Do I really want to eat mayo that I opened four months ago? Or ketchup I bought a year ago? And why do I have two bottles of salad dressing? We hardly ever eat salad! I have no idea how old they are...but they are date stamped to be good until mid-2017 and have been in the fridge at least 6 months already.


As for the fridge keeping fruits/veggies "fresh": If you pick them while they are not ripe, ship them half-way around the world, treat them with gas/chemicals to make them look ripe, and then display them in bins until they sell, will a week or two in a fridge really make much of a difference to their taste or texture? Wouldn't it make more sense to eat what is local/in season and not depend on refrigeration? Or put another way, do we really need raspberries in winter and peas in high summer?

I need to think about our refrigerator addiction. Should I just say No?