Sunday, July 7, 2019

Things always look better in the light of the rising sun

Things are looking up.

Air Conditioning
The air conditioning is working.  Fluff was in the mechanical contactor. A little bit of work with a hose cleaned that out. Every year I promise I will cover the hole the mice are using to get into the unit. Every year I promptly forget once the AC unit is working again.

The unit was installed in 1977. What a beast!

The Malibu
Belladonna has rides to-and-from work for the next week. She was panicked at first but then she found out that several of her coworkers live near Allendale. Belladonna is an exceptionally pleasant person and they graciously offered to pick her up on the way to work.

The shop can look at the vehicle and determine what is wrong. I am mentally prepared for a new PCM or fuel pump, either of which could have caused the vehicle to stop working without warning.

The logic of investing $600 in a car is to compare it to the alternatives. Where can I get a comparable car for $600? Answer: There are no reliable, $600 cars.

Bella graduates in December. Her first order of business after landing a job is to get a loan and buy a ten year old vehicle.

Belladonna liked the looks of this one. Police car turn-in, 2014 model, 99k miles for $4500.
The Silverado
I got the new starter into the vehicle. I am not 100% sure the old starter was the problem. There was arc-pitting on the wire terminals and extensive corrosion. For the less mechanically inclined, arc pitting occurs is when sparks jump across an air gap from one conductor to the next. It implies high resistance between the officially sanctioned path. That is, loose connectors or corrosion. Sparks jumping through the air are also a high resistance path and generate heat instead of turning the motor.

A starter can draw 500 Amps so there is much potential to generate heat.

It probably needs new terminals. I sanded the old ones until they were shiny and ensured I had good torque on the nuts.

The starter sounded tired when I tried it the first time. I put the battery charger on the battery and went inside to enjoy the AC and a beer. I also wanted to get the grit out of my eyes.

The ever wise and beautiful Mrs ERJ was an awesome assistant. She handed me bolts as-needed and was able to tell me where I had laid (mislaid, usually) the tool I needed. On one occasion she dashed into the house to get another tool, one I had not anticipated needing. Mrs ERJ is a keeper.

More horses in the barn
In talking with Belladonna I mentioned the need for more help with mom & dad care.

She surprised me by offering to help, especially for the over-night segments.

She apologized for not being able to do it for free. She is painfully aware of the cost of keeping cars running. No surprise there.

She asked for $30 to cover gas and wear-and-tear for the 180 mile round trip between Allendale and Lansing. Yup, you read that right, $30 for an 8 PM-to-8 AM shift with an hour-and-a-half commute tacked onto each end. Bella is not a high maintenance kid. I already got feedback from one sibling that if Bella was hired she would be paid the prevailing hourly rate and the sibling was willing to pop for the $30 transportation costs. Like I wrote earlier, everybody is getting frazzled.

Ultimately the decision is up to mom and dad. Points in favor of pressing Belladonna into service is that one of her current jobs is providing in-home healthcare assistance and that she is as strong as a backhoe. Points against is that mom might not want a grandkid wiping her backside.


  1. Better your grand-kid than some total stranger helping. Kudos for Bella being willing to help with her grandparents and being up-front about needing gas money.

  2. That kind of care of a loved one is hard on a grandkid.

    Just sayin'

  3. Mom might rather a granddaughter wiping her backside than her son...just saying. That has been my experience that I have seen in 30+ years of home care. And, the bonus is that Bella will always remember, and be glad for the time spent with her Grandparents. Especially after they are gone. After all, many old folks are up more at night then they are during the day...or as much.
    You and your team should look into what community resources are available in the area for assisted living care. They are NOT jails, you can go and take Mom or Dad out for meals, fun trips shopping, or to the movies, etc, etc. But they have the extra hands that are needed when family becomes toasty around the edges. And they may also offer therapy to help strengthen and train folks easier, different ways to do those ever popular "tasks of daily living" by helping folks get equipment to be as independent as possible. Occupational therapists have HUGE bags of tricks, and Physical Therapy can do wonders for strengthening, improving endurance, and how to fall safely, so minimal damage occurs. But scope it out, as just like everything else, there are good options, great options and really bad options.
    Just throwing it out there...YMMV.

  4. My mom had a harder time accepting me doing the physical cleanups than my daughter.


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