sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

May 9, 2006

in which our heroine belatedly learns of a secret compartment
posted by soe 12:34 am

brown alpaca

When last we left our heroine, she was just turning out of the driveway of the Howard County Fairgrounds following an exhausting and exhaustive day at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. The bags were stashed in the back, the windows were down, and Brenda Dayne was chatting it up on the iPod — our heroine thought life was good. Find out how her optimism would be tested after this break.

There I was meandering home just about 6:30. The sun was starting to sink in the sky, giving the farm across the road from the fairgrounds a beautiful yellow glow. Last year I paused to snap a picture and ended up breaking our digital camera. I opted not to stop this year, instead taking a mental image away with me.

I’m listening to my podcast when all of a sudden, I notice a weird noise. Brenda usually posts a very clean program, but I turn down the radio anyway, hoping that’s the cause. Nope. Something more ominous. I slow down. So does the sound. I stop. So does the sound. Flat tire.


I pull off the road into a church parking lot just ahead of me. I open the trunk, sigh at the mess Rudi and I have allowed to accumulate back there, and dig out the spare. I find the pouch with the lugnut wrench in it. I see the handle for the jack. But where is the jack? It’s not there.

I leave a message for Rudi who is cycling home and start rifling in the glove compartment for the manual so I can double-check how to change a tire. I’ve never done it before and it has been half a lifetime since they covered it in driver’s ed. The manual is also missing.

Rudi phones. I grumble at him and we decide I should call our insurance company’s roadside assistance program. Except Rudi doesn’t have their number in the car. So I call my folks, who find the number for me. I call the number and reach an operator who explains that since the car is Rudi’s and since I am not a registered driver, they will need to speak with him first. This is reasonable, I suppose. I could be a very ballsy car thief.

young kid

The roadside lady calls me back after Rudi gets off the phone with her and asks me where I am. Conveniently, the church owns a van on which is printed my very location. I share this information. She doesn’t ask me to spell anything. She asks me if there is a cross road nearby. “Ma’am, I have no idea. I didn’t think it would be necessary to go hiking around the back lanes of Maryland to get a lay of the lands before calling you.” I try not to let this thought leak through.

I am put on hold and all I can think is how irksome it is that I have all this great yarn in the backseat and no knitting needles. I must remember to put some in the car for emergency purposes. They can double as a weapon should I need to defend the car against angry squirrels. The operator comes back. Several times. Another call comes through and in my attempt to answer that it, I drop the operator — and my dad.

The operator calls back. She cannot find anyone who is willing to come out to help me. Would I like her to call the police? Ummm, no. This is hardly an emergency yet. It is remarkably irritating, but it seems unnecessary to involve the police. She seems sympathetic and tells me to get receipts for any costs I have to pay and that they will reimburse me.

white alpacas

I start to canvass the neighborhood. The two houses next to the church are dark. The house immediately across the street has two cars in the garage, but no working doorbell and no one hears my little knock at their McMansion. Two doors over, a friendly Yellow Lab and a startled young woman try to find a jack in her car, but she has no more luck than I. She suggests next door, which ironically has a tow truck in the driveway — with a flat tire. A truck pulls into the next driveway over and sits there idling. I call into the backyard, hoping the driver can give me a hand, but perhaps my timidity makes me think I am louder than the truck. I cross the street, wander up a lane to a “horse farm” with a house with a boarded over window. I think I am relieved when no one comes to answer the door.

I go back to the car, thinking all the while that it would have been so much more convenient to have discovered the flat when I was back at the fairgrounds surrounded by knitters. I call Rudi up and yell at him some more for a situation that is not his fault. This does not solve the problem or make either of us feel better.

He says he will call AAA from home when he arrives there shortly. I start to get mildly nervous. It is dusk and I am easily an hour’s drive from D.C. If Rudi doesn’t have luck with a tow truck, he will have to ask one of our friends with a car to drive him back out to get me.

As I am thinking about how guilty I feel, a truck pulls into the driveway. It’s the man from the driveway with the idling truck across the way who noticed me leaving his property. He has come to help me out!

I explain the problem and show him how there was no jack in with the doughnut. He immediately points to a compartment with a door on the side of the trunk, where my jack has been sitting all along, laughing at me silently. I blush. I thank the man, who sizes me up and asks if I’ve ever changed a tire before.

No, I say, but I have the manual (which I found under the driver’s seat while on hold with the operator). I can figure it out. He takes over, and I am so exhausted that I let him. The lugnuts are tight and he struggles with them before he can get them off. Then he finds that the wheel doesn’t want to come off, and he drives back to his house to get some WD-40 and a hammer. The WD-40 does the trick, which is a relief to me, because I’m not sure Costco will take back a tire that has been pounded with what they might consider to be a weapon.

yarn purchases

Of course, the doughnut, which has never been driven on in the car’s 10+ years, is flat. Miracle of miracles, Mike has an air pump in his garage and he fills up my tire. I thank him profusely and drive away home thinking about the kindness of a stranger.

My trip back to D.C., which ought to have taken me less than an hour, has taken three by the time I arrive home with my goodies. I pull two U-turns on Florida Avenue to nab a spot right in front of the Burrow. Clearly the heavens felt I’d had enough and removed all traffic and anyone looking to park from my way.

I eat pizza and doze on the sofa. It has been a very long day.

Sunday was much less challenging than Saturday — and thank goodness! Rudi and I spent the morning sleeping in, watching Paul Simon on CBS Sunday Morning, and visiting our favorite farmers at the market. In the afternoon, we watched an exciting Nationals game at RFK where they won only their second series of the season. We went home via the National Gallery, where the Cézanne exhibit was coming to a close. There was a line and the galleries were crowded, but this was nothing in comparison to the last closing weekend we went to the NGA. Then it had been a Toulouse-Lautrec show, and we easily waited an hour just to get into the galleries. This line was faster than some express lanes at the grocery store. And the exhibit was really well done. We came home to watch the penultimate episode of The West Wing and spend a low-key evening around the house.

(The yarn is (from the top) five skeins of Peace Fleece worsted weight in Georgia [the country] Rose; 500 yards of cotton chenille in The Blues and [Komoto Dragon? Emerald Isle? It’s unlabeled…] that remind me of the sea; and 900 yards of a merino-silk blend in Chanel and Cassis. The latter two are from A Touch of Twist in New York. If their yarn is as nice to work with as their prices, they will be on my must-visit list every year.)

Category: arts,knitting,sports. There is/are 6 Comments.

Could you bring me home an alpaca next time…but not in the trunk! The shed would make a lovely home….

It was a trying evening, even for us after not being able to reach you, but you had a terrific haul to compensate for the travails… However, it’s beginning to look like my fabric cupboard…apple – tree?????

I haven’t found my knitting stuff yet, and now that you have as much as I do needle-wise and won’t need mine, I may just start up again…may being that operative word! I need a new passion!!! (That alpaca would work…think about it next year!!!!!!!!)

Comment by Mum 05.09.06 @ 11:21 am

You’ve got it, Mum. I’ll put the alpaca on the roof rack and just remind him to lower his head when we go through the tunnels.

And, yes, that lovely pie safe we bought to help reduce the clutter seems to mostly be full of yarn. Rudi hasn’t complained yet — but that may be because I’m working on a pair of socks for him!

Comment by soe 05.09.06 @ 11:27 am

I don’t understand how the little seminar I held for you in Wlfd on how to change a tire has left your mind. And has the tire been repaired and remounted? We had about 4 or 5 flats on the trips twixt CT & DC and have plenty of experience. It’s good to check the donuts occasionally. Recently, I checked the conv & that donut was flat. It’s been filled.

Comment by DOD 05.09.06 @ 12:16 pm

The tire has not been repaired/remounted yet. Given the car doesn’t do a lot of driving during the week, we figured we’d head over to VA on Saturday.

Hmmm… tire changing seminar? Nope. Don’t recall that one. Are you sure it was me and not Josh?

Comment by soe 05.09.06 @ 12:21 pm

I’ve not had to change tires in my Scooby, and with AAA I don’t expect to attempt it any time soon. I’ve re-discovered secret compartments in my trunk several times, and each time I am surprised to find the hidden caches of tires or tools.

I had a flat once with the Sundance. Even if I were a tire-changing expert, I would not have made an attempt then. This was on the 163 during rush hour, and it was the front driver’s side tire that burst. Looking back, it only took maybe 20 minutes for help to arrive, but it was an excruciatingly irritating time. You wouldn’t expect boring and scary to go together.

Comment by Grey Kitten 05.09.06 @ 4:52 pm

You can’t really think the tire lecture was given only to Josh and not you!!!!! (And I’m as sure Josh doesn’t remember it either.)

However, chances are you wouldn’t have been able to get the lug nuts off when they’d been put on with the pneumatic wrench….

Comment by mum 05.09.06 @ 10:07 pm