‘Tis the Season for Squirrels …sewing & car trouble.

‘Tis the Season for Squirrels …sewing & car trouble.


Q: Can you name that photo ?

A: $700

Car trouble, squirrels and sewing; what do they have in common ? Well, at first glance, nothing. One is a motorized vehicle, one is a small mammal and one is a hobby.  Up until today, I would have sworn they were totally unrelated objects; separate entities; having nothing to do with each other; “and never the twain shall meet”. Today, I am proved wrong.
Let’s back up a few days.. Monday and Tuesday of this week, our car was running just fine. On Wednesday afternoon the engine was idling ‘wrong’ as if the car was struggling for fuel. The gas idiot-light did not appear but one should never rely only on that. The gas gauge showed less than 1/4 tank but above the danger zone. Just to be sure, we added gas. Unfortunately that did not improve the situation. While the car did not stutter, it still felt as if something was not getting enough oomph (~to use a technical term). Maybe we needed to drive it a bit so the new gas had time to get circulating ? Nope, that didn’t help. We drove the car home and parked it. We had plans to drive to another state on Saturday with our son Paul and his girlfriend, Emily. (Does the car ever break down at a convenient time ? Is there an established convenient time for it to break down ? No and No.) Thursday, the car had not magically recovered so we called our son Paul, to let him know the situation and see if he was able to drive for this trip or should we reschedule the whole thing ? Paul offered one of their cars for the trip and suggested we get a diagnostic run on ours. If we can get a good diagnosis, he is usually able to do repairs for us (sweetheart, that he is).
So, we visited our local Auto Zone to get use of their digital code-reader diagnostic tool service. (Luckily, it’s only a few blocks away as I was having visions of the engine catching fire or some such thing.) Their handy diagnostic tool and service is available at no charge (FREE !). It is offered by the parent company in hopes that if your vehicle is in need and they assist you with the diagnosis, if it’s a DIY fix you may be inspired to purchase the parts from them. A good marketing tool, IMO.
Our troubleshooting receipts from the diagnostic service showed (and I quote,)
Issues: Ignition coil number 5 circuit; erratic signal; cylinder misfire detected.
Probable causes: faulty spark plug or coil boot, failed ignition coil.

When Paul removed the insulated engine cover, he was able to determine right away what was going on. The inside of the molded plastic engine cover has a layer of insulation, sort of a dense batting attached to the plastic. Ours has an oval section chewed out of this insulation. Yes, chewed. Checking the number 5 spark plug ignition pigtail wire and coil (hey, I don’t make up these names~) showed further damage. *** See photo of Paul holding part. How did he know what was going on ? This very thing happened to Paul recently and totaled his car. The engine which suddenly wouldn’t start, was chewed up and covered with pieces of black walnuts and shells.
Apparently, it’s squirrel nesting season. For some reason, though our house is surrounded by trees, flowers, vines and assorted shrubbery, an innovative squirrel in need of house-building materials decided to enter the car engine from underneath (where there is no protective base “cover” of any kind) and begin gathering useful materials from there.
I’m picturing a mod, technologically advanced Steampunk squirrel with monocle, top hat and marble-handle, articulated brass walking stick. He wants to create something other than the typical, run-of-the-mill nest. Soft and warm, yes; but with a futuristic flair and elegance befitting of his character. No simple twig and cottonwood fluff for this creature, he wants only the most modern, mechanical and long-lasting materials he can sink his teeth into. And so he did…sink his teeth into our car’s engine, using his sharp incisors to rip apart the insulation, gnawing and chewing his way through metal wires and plastic housing parts. So far, the replacement “damage” adds up to $700 in parts alone.
Perhaps now you can understand the connection between car trouble and squirrels. But what does that have to do with sewing ? Well, part of it is reverse psychology. If one has no means of transportation, one urgently feels the pressing need to go somewhere, specifically to visit the fabric shop. There’s less stress if your car is in working order as you have the option to leave the house if you need to. Not that you have to, just knowing the car is available is a comfort. When that option is taken away, you suddenly remember that 7″ brass zipper you should have bought or the fact that you are dangerously low on denim colored thread and the repair basket is substantially high with denim shorts and pants. Frustration can quickly set in. What is a sewing-person to do ? Make your emergency fabric shop list and arrange a ride. Give yourself a small budget (you need to save for the car repairs, remember). Buy only what is on your list plus a sweet-tooth reward for sticking to your list. Go home and SEW. Just sew; because now you have a great excuse not to do anything else :) Can you go grocery shopping ? No, go sew. Run an errand for a neighbor ? No, go sew ! Attend a candle home-party or expensive jewelry trunk show ? No ! Go sew ! See how freeing this can be ? Who knew car trouble could be so good for sewing ? ~AND, if you are sewing up a storm, there will soon be a slew of crafts you can sell creating cash to help pay for the car repairs :)
While I am not happy about this ridiculously expensive squirrel incident, I can see the benefits of looking for the positive in a seemingly negative and possibly hopeless situation. So that’s how my weekend went.
And by the way, we went ahead with our trip to visit friends in another state. We celebrated a birthday with a little Princess, we walked 100 feet underground in the spectacular Ohio Caverns, stopped at a castle and got caught in a terrible storm on the way home. It was a great adventure and I’m glad we didn’t have to cancel our plans.
Now I’m off to go sew and earn some spark plug coils~

Best wishes to you~




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