Friday, December 06, 2013

Bald is not always beautiful...

Not that my opinion matters, but I think men who are balding should embrace the beauty.  Buzz what's left and enjoy life.  After all, Patrick Stewart certainly showed just how attractive a balding man can be.  Oh, my!

But balding tires are not beautiful.

Yes, I was out with Sandra on Wednesday in my Highlander.  With merely a light mist, my wheels spun several times.  The traction control and anti-locked break systems kicked in and I automatically noted that that's been happening, mostly to assure my passenger that I was used to it.  Sandra pointed out that it shouldn't.

I have been so very exhausted and so ill over the past three years, I have not given my tires a second thought.  Not even a first thought.  So, I sat there giving them many thoughts.  Much to my chagrin—utter embarrassment, really—it dawned on me that my tires are eight years old.  My 5-year-warranty tires.  Eight.  Eight years old and rather bald.  As in huge swaths of tire without any sort of groove left.

I already knew Fort Wayne did not have a National Tire & Battery (NTB), which is where I have always gone.  Or at least as long as I can remember.  I do know that since I have been responsible for a car (30 years now), I have always bought Goodyear tires.  Not knowing where to go or what to do, I asked Sandra for advice and she suggested I just go to Wal-Mart.

I did.  I ran into someone who couldn't operate the computer and who asked me what size tires I needed three times.  He asked me what kind of vehicle I needed three times.  And I will admit that I became very agitated when he left the computer to help another customer—a Wal-Mart employee—and then started the process of looking up tires once more ... asking me what size I needed and what kind of vehicle I have.

A manager heard my slightly loud question:  "Is there someone who actually knows about tires who can help me?" and headed over to intervene.  He asked the young man what size tires I needed and what vehicle I had.  After four times of hearing that I drive a Highlander, the young man couldn't answer him.  The bottom line was that the Goodyear ones they carried that would fit my vehicle were special order, so I had one choice.  And there would be a three hour wait before the hour and a half installation would begin.  I simply cannot sit in a chair that long.  I asked for an appointment, which Wal-mart does not give, so I asked what was the best time of day to come.  The answer (7:00 AM) exhausted me further.

On the way home, I bought a propane tank, since all my careful financial machinations have been blown out of the water with a tire purchase, because Tim was coming with firewood and I knew he would take it from my car and hook it up for me.  He did.  Willingly.  I shall be grilling over the winter.

I also managed to get gas.

I swear there is some sort of price gouging in Fort Wayne.  On Wednesday, gas was $2.98 at the best station, $2.99 at a nearby good one.  That same station on Thursday had gas for $3.34!  Oh, my!  Hoping fervently the $2.99 one had not leapt up yet (gas prices can change in a minute around here), I navigated my way over to the BP station.  Eighteen cars were lined up, mostly 3 deep waiting to get gas.  Yes, the price was still $2.99.  Yes, I managed to fill up and make it back home even though I had to exit the station on an unfamiliar road and I did not have my Magellan with me.

Once home, I was really fretting about what to do.  Just how much of an investment do I make in tires?  I have barely driven in the past three years and do not anticipate more.  Yet, I do not believe in being penny wise and pound foolish.  Plus, who in the world is General tires?  I called Sandra and she suggested that I comparison shop.  The thought of doing so was exhausting and I had a cookin'-with-Marie day today, but I thought her advice sound.  I did worry how I was going to do comparisons and such.

Well, it turns out Goodyear has a rather nice website now.  You insert your vehicle information and your location and you can compare many tires, choose a set, choose a location, and book an appointment.  I also learned that the extended Black Friday sale was ending Saturday.  The cost for the Goodyear tires on sale was $25 less than the General tires and I could make an appointment, so I did ... for today at 6:00 PM.  I also became a bit weary of hearing horror stories of tires blowing out because they were bald.

How in the world could I forget about tires??
What other maintenance issues am I missing ... on all fronts, not just vehicular???

Marie.  Oh, Marie!  She brought me some groceries and then showed me how to make Butternut Squash, Sage, and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Hazelnut Brown Butter Sauce.  [Of course, I added cream to the brown butter sauce.]  We drank wine and ate fine food (including roasted broccoli) and she remembered to sing the hymn I had been longing to hear.  Good times.

Only, she left and I had to somehow manage to stay awake long enough to make my appointment.  I also had to set aside all sorts of disaster scenarios playing through my mind as to what could happen driving across town to get the tires.

I fell asleep in the chairs at Goodyear.  Twice.

It turns out that the dealer put a different size rim on my Highlander than should have been used.  I am not sure if that is because I have alloy rims or not.  In any case, the store did not have the tires I needed in stock.  I am not sure if it was the sleeping in the chairs or just my rather pitiful expression, but the manager sold me a much nicer set of tires, discounting each one over $40, so that—together with the $80 rebate—my ultimate cost would be nearly the same as the online booking.  He even filled out the rebate form for me and gave me an envelope.  It is currently stamped and awaiting pick-up.

I called around until I got ahold of someone (Becky) to drive home with me, because I was honestly not sure I could stay awake long enough to get there.  I have been nodding off each early evening.  I am not sure why, but the fatigue—overwhelming exhaustion, really— has been magnified seemingly ten-fold of late.

Yes, I have been grousing about buying tires for over 24-hours now.  They are not in my budget, and I would much, much, much rather have planned for them ... maybe next spring.  However, even I was a tad horrified when I stuck my face close enough to the tires to actually see them.  [I really do need new glasses.]  I should have bought them before I moved.  But the months before were filled with such trauma and chaos that my Highlander did not cross my mind.  The one thought I gave it before heading out to cross country was to have the seven-year-old battery changed.  And I only did that because I had had to have a jump a few times in the months prior to leaving.

Honestly, when I think about driving back from my father's funeral in January during a blinding snow storm on such horrid tires, I cannot help but wonder if God's protection was working on overdrive.  Too, He spared me when I drove out to the granite factory in June during a torrential rain storm.  Perhaps that last drive was the tipping point.  I cannot remember if I was hydroplaning then, but I do know that the pesky light letting me know I was slip-sliding about has been coming on rather frequently in the past couple of months.  I have just been too exhausted to give much thought to the light and why it was coming on at all.  Christ be praised no blowouts or accidents or any danger befell me for my vehicular neglect.

My best friend asked me how in the world the car passed inspection. Ah, but there's the other side of the coin of finally living in a state without car inspections.  I was almost due for one in Virginia, so I have not had an inspection for nearly four years.  Perhaps ... perhaps there is value in being forced to have your car inspected every year.

I came home and slept. And slept some more.  And a bit more.

In thinking about this rather large unexpected bill, I did buy a bit more groceries than needed this month.  And Marie brought me two dozen eggs and offered more.  I think I could stretch out my groceries well into January—perhaps all the way through it—if I mix in a few meals of oatmeal or eggs throughout each week.  That would mean my only grocery spending would be dairy and vegetables.  Somehow, my oatmeal supply keeps multiplying, because I have yet to run out of those packets despite having twice skipped groceries for the month last winter, to make up for the cost of going to the funeral.

Marie also brought me chocolate, since she has committed to a more healthy route.  I, of course, accepted the chocolate quite readily.  And, before falling asleep, managed to eat a couple of pieces as reward for getting the tires and for making it back home without falling asleep.

Last year, I made myself a bowl of rose petals from the old-fashioned roses in the yard.  Simply drying them out preserved their fragrance.  With the last roses of the season, I had saved enough petals to make a bowl for Marie, putting them into one of the crystal dishes I inherited.  I liked that she liked it and am looking forward to creating another one next year ... for whomever I can find who likes the smell of roses.

The tastiness of chocolate and the sweet aroma of roses.  A fair trade, eh?

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

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