I Did It Again

Our daughter is coming home from Michigan for a few days around Christmas. We are excited to see her and I’m sure she’s excited to see us. I’m also excited to see how she and the dogs react to seeing each other for the first time in almost 6 months.

When our daughter asked if, while she was here, she could borrow the car to visit some college friends, my first thought was “Uh-oh. I hope she doesn’t do something dumb.”

That’s when I realized I was doing it again. She will be 24 in a couple of weeks. At age 22, my fiancée and I drove across the country by ourselves in an old Volkswagen Beetle and we camped almost every night we were on the road. At age 24, had God not changed my plans, I would have been married for over 6 months. I felt I was responsible enough.

The moment I thought, “Uh-oh. I hope she doesn’t do anything dumb.”, I realized that **I** was the one being dumb. If I was responsible enough at age 24 to be married, then our daughter, a few days before her 24th birthday, would be responsible enough to “not do anything dumb” with a car….after all, I had helped to raise her.

My worry was replaced with “OK. No problem.”


Two days ago we were in Mackinaw City, Michigan, USA and both my wife and I, and our daughter were ready to drive off to our homes. Our daughter the 100 miles back to her new place in northern Michigan and my wife and I the 2,400 miles back to the USA desert southwest.

Our daughter was sad and excited, all at the same time.

She picked “yellow lab” when she was 9 years old and that was 13-1/2 years ago. Yellow lab is now 14 years old and this is likely the last time they will be together.

And, excited that she will be starting a job at a bank…and the job is related to her business administration degree….

Good Luck.

If you are lost, you can look and you will find us

Our Daughter

On Monday, May 31, she will be leaving her home state (where she was born and has lived her entire life) to move to Michigan. She and her boyfriend will be driving his truck and her car via the fastest route possible to Michigan and it will take them through some fairly high altitudes in the Rocky Mountains..

We will be taking our two dogs with us and our dogs’ veterinarian recommended that we not subject our one (very) elderly dog to high altitudes. So we will be taking a different route that will be a couple of hundred miles farther. And, because traveling with 2 dogs is like traveling with 2 toddlers (bathroom stops, water stops, get out and sniff walk around stops, etc.), we’re expecting to take an extra day to get to Michigan.

They thought about taking our route, but they don’t want to be late for their new jobs.

They will be driving across country and carrying in their vehicles the few things that won’t fit into one of those small household shipping containers, so they won’t have room for camping stuff. She said they’ll be using hotels, but they will be eating only ‘energy bar’ and ‘sandwich’ meals to save as much money as possible.

It all sounds so familiar!

When I was one year younger than my daughter, my fiancee and I drove a VW bug across country to introduce each other to our extended families. Since we weren’t moving and not carrying household stuff, we carried our camping gear. Each night we tent camped and prepared our own meals so we could save as much money as possible.

My fiancee and I had a great adventure. Our daughter and (very serious) boyfriend will have a great adventure. My wife and I will have a great adventure.

On the way home, we will be both thrilled and sad. Our daughter will be assuming her place in the world, which is thrilling, but being half way across the country, we won’t see her as often as we do now…which will be sad.

But as I’ve said before, this is how it’s supposed to be.

Stopped for Michigan

Our daughter is moving to Michigan and her apartment lease is ending today, so her clothing, kitchen stuff and furniture was, yesterday, moved into storage unit. The space that I reclaimed with the shelves I built is now fully occupied. When one opens the “garage door” to the storage unit, it is as full as practical. I suppose one could get a few socks or paper towel rolls in the unit, but that’s about it.

Until her stuff is moved out, in another 10 days, I’m not able to move stuff into storage, so that part of our move plans are stopped.

In the meantime, I have been working on the lawn. To me, a lawn is a waste of water and I’d just as soon not have the lawn, but…it’s there…and my wife likes it. 🙂 I have a de-thatching rake and I’ve removed quite a lot of thatch from the lawn. That project is stopped at about 2/3 complete until tomorrow morning when the city trash truck empties the now full trash barrel.

Once the thatch removal is complete, I’ll spread fertilizer on the lawn and soon the lawn will look like something that belongs “back east” rather than in the USA desert southwest.

Once the lawn is done, I’m not sure what else I can do, so I’ll probably work on the old truck. I have the parts and, since I have the time, I might as well take care of this stuff now.

Growing Up

Our 23 year old daughter called today and told us that she is almost certain that she will soon be moving to a small town in northern Michigan. I checked and it’s about 2,000 miles/3,200km distant.

As I posted in Today is the Day. we are no longer “center stage”. Now we are more in the audience than before and, again, this is how it should be.

Having our daughter take her place in the world is what we’ve been working toward for her entire life. I’m excited, hopeful and even a bit nervous. I’m sure every parent can relate to these feelings.

Great News

Last May, soon after our daughter graduated from university, the two job offers she had received both “evaporated” due to Covid. Since then she’s been working at whatever temporary jobs she could find, so the second interview news was exciting to hear about.

In the past few weeks she was getting lots of second interviews and she didn’t want to wear the same outfit to both interviews. Yesterday, my wife and I had a great time meeting our daughter’s boyfriend and then going Christmas shopping with her to get her more job interview (office clothes).

Today, she called to tell us that at the conclusion of her third job interview at a marketing firm, she was offered a position and she accepted it. Her job will be in the section that does the marketing campaigns for pet stores, humane societies and even the county animal control office. She loves animals and I guess it showed during her interview.

She is thrilled and so am I. Hence the bragging.

The Bell–Picture

bell-hiThe bell is all done.

Even though most everyone would call it a “ship’s bell”, this is most likely a bell that was on (or destined to be on) some small unnamed vessel.  All of the ships’ bells that I’ve seen have the name of the ship cast into the bell and, as far as I know, they are kept by the navy when the ship is decommissioned.

To get a picture that shows the “U.S.N.”, I had to get up on a ladder and this “distorts” how high above ground it appears the bell is mounted.  I am nearly 6 feet (180cm) tall and I can walk under the bell without hitting my head, so the bell is much higher up than it appears in this picture.

When I told our daughter about the bell being struck for my brother’s and my birth, she asked if that was done for her.  I showed her my mom’s diary entry

As soon as we got home, <dad’s name> jumped out of the car and almost ran to the bell to tell the neighborhood of the birth of our first grandchild, a beautiful baby girl.  Fortunately it was daylight.

She went over and tried the bell.  It startled her…and she had a huge smile on her face.

Sourdough Rolls

When I got home from the field trip, I started on some sourdough rolls.

My wife and I are going to see our daughter tomorrow and I was asked if I could bring more sourdough rolls.

I got the “Pleeeeeeeseeeee…..”  treatment.  How could a dad say no to that?  🙂


She has made these at home, so it’s not a case of her not knowing how to make them.  In her case it’s a lack of space.  She lives in a four bedroom apartment with three other girls and there isn’t a lot of room for storing cooking utensils.


Earlier this week my daughter had all four of her wisdom teeth removed.  My wife and I could tell she was nervous, but she knew it had to be done.

The first few hours after the teeth were removed were a haze for her due the anesthetic and later, the hydrocodone-actaminophen tablets to control the pain.

After two days, except for eating soft foods, she’s pretty much back to normal.  It’s been 24 hours since she’s needed any of the prescription pain meds, so in a few hours she’ll probably drive back to her apartment.



At the insistence of my daughter, the 20 year old friend of hers that bought my mom’s car called and asked my opinion on the cost of some maintenance that was recommended by a repair shop…..

The problem was “the car runs badly, but only when I’m in a parking lot or stopped at a traffic light.  The rest of the time, it’s OK.”

The shop recommended

  • Replacing the spark plugs  $240 labor, $60 parts.
  • Replacing the spark plug wires, $240 labor and $70 parts.
  • Replacing the weak battery, $50 labor and $300 parts.

The shop also recommended some optional preventative maintenance items.

  • A transmission system “flush”, $200
  • A power steering system “flush”, $100.
  • A cooling system flush, $100.
  • A fuel system flush,  $100.


The lady said she gave my maintenance records to the shop.  I made those records and they show that

  • The battery was replaced four months ago.
  • The transmission was serviced four months ago.
  • The power steering system was flushed four months ago.
  • I had to replace the radiator in July 2017, and I flushed out the cooling system at that time.
  • The fuel system was checked and the fuel filter was replaced ‘just because’ in July 2017.


I told her to drive away from that repair shop, to never set foot in there again and to bring the car over to my house.


I went ahead a replaced the spark plugs and wires.  Since the back three spark plugs and wires are difficult to access (requires removing a bunch of hoses, components and wires), I went ahead and used the more expensive platinum electrode spark plug wires and very high quality spark plug wires so this won’t need to be done again for many years.

Once all the stuff to access the spark plugs is removed, putting in new spark plug wires only added 10 minutes of time when compared to reusing the old wires.   My guess is they quoted her a price to, “take it apart, replace the spark plugs, put it all back together, take the same stuff apart again, replace the spark plug wires and then put it all back together again.”   That is something only an idiot would do.

In reality, the spark plug wires and spark plugs were in decent (but not perfect) condition and this could have been deferred for another few years.

I checked the battery under full load and it is as good as a new battery.  It was not “weak”.


Oh, yes.  The poor idle problem.  It was none of the stuff they recommended.  It was a cracked PCV (emission) hose.  The PCV hose for a 1994 Buick is a weird custom “thing” that is not easily replaceable with generic components.  However,  General Motors used that same part in many different cars, over many different years, and the part is both easily available and very cheap.   The first auto parts place I called had one in stock for under $9.00.  Since the “rubber” sections in that part had degraded, I went ahead and replaced all the other “rubber” parts in the other vacuum lines.   It took just 15 minutes to do this and considering the low cost of vacuum lines, it’s worth the time to do this to prevent future vacuum leaks.

So, here is what it cost:

  • Slightly more than 3 leisurely hours, including getting the parts.
  • $29 for the spark plugs.  I used the more expensive platinum ones that should last “forever”
  • $31 for the spark plug wires.
  • $9 for the PCV hose.
  • $3 for some vacuum hose

Since she had given the shop person the maintenance records, my guess is that they saw a 20 year old college girl with a 24 year old car and went from there.  That annoys me and I called the repair shop to let them know this.  I was not rude, nor did I talk loudly, but I was very clear in expressing my annoyance.


This is why I insisted my daughter understand how to do the work and what it takes to do it.  Even though she doesn’t have the tools (or the room) to do the work, she still knows when “something isn’t right”.