Thursday, March 9, 2017

Our Long Winter

A few posts back, I mentioned that my long absence had been due to technical difficulties.  I did indeed have technical difficulties, however, it wasn't just technology that had plagued me, it was life - coming at me from every direction!

This winter has been a learning experience, a trial, and a blessing.  Over the past year, my computer had been becoming increasingly glitchy, until finally, in November, it died.  Not a slow, agonizing death, just an abrupt, final end.  At first I was panicky, wanting another computer immediately, however, the longer I went without one, the more peaceful my life became.  No more perusing Craigslist or reading the news, instead I read old George MacDonald books and played board games with my children.  I did occasionally bum Sir Knight's iPad in the evenings, just to stay up on current events, but really, life without a computer wasn't bad at all.  In the end, the only thing I really missed was you.  I missed blogging.

Truthfully, I probably would have bought a "new" computer earlier, but just after my computer died, so did everything else we owned.  The first thing to go was the new battery we had brought home for our solar system.  The new battery was incredible, and then one day I noticed that we had gone from 27 volts to 22.5 volts in a matter of hours - and nothing was on but the refrigerator and a couple of lights!  When Sir Knight came home, I shared my concerns and he immediately checked the battery with his volt meter.  Because we use "old" forklift batteries for our system, they are technically worn out when we get them.  This battery had been thoroughly tested and charged, however, after using it for about a month, we lost one of the cells, which meant that instead of having a 24 volt battery, we now had a 22 volt battery.

Sir Knight, with his infinite battery knowledge, did the impossible and "fixed" our battery.  He jumpered the battery, bypassing the bad cell, and in doing so, tricked our battery into holding a remarkably decent charge.  Sir Knight is planning on replacing the bad cell (I didn't even know that was possible!) when he finds the right battery.  I think that will be a pretty tricky job, but if anyone can do it, Sir Knight can!

Our "new" jumpered battery

Sir Knight says not to try this at home!!
Just after the battery lost a cell, our generator died - again.  Without a good battery and no way to charge, we really had to change our lifestyle.  We used little electricity - only a few lights and the refrigerator.  I did laundry once a week, using our backup welder/generator (which was only available when Sir Knight was at home) and we streamlined our showers and general water consumption.  As we struggled with our power system, our only vehicle began to fail.

Last October, Sir Knight and Miss Serenity put new shocks on our Toyota Landcruiser.  The shocks were not nearly as stiff as we were used to and we weren't thrilled with their performance, but they were better than our old, worn-out shocks.   One day I was driving down the road, heard a thump and realized I had broken a shock.  Really?  Who breaks shocks?!  With property taxes due, it wasn't the time to fix the damage.  Another week went by and the second rear shock broke.  Argh!!!  We figured that we would put new shocks on the truck after Christmas and just live with "Galloping Gertie" until then.  We still had a generator to pick up from the mechanic - now was not the time for additional mechanical expenses!

Christmas was drawing near.  Our generator was fixed and running well, Sir Knight had jumpered the battery and we were back up and running.  Although our shocks were shot, our truck still ran well.  And then, the other shoe dropped......our heat in the truck went out!  It was the middle of winter, we had a trip to Caer David planned, we had no shocks and now, no heat and, most troubling, no defroster!  In a panic, we thought of buying a new truck.  Regaining our sanity, we decided that there was nothing terribly wrong with our Landcruiser and it was well worth fixing.   And it was certainly not worth having a vehicle payment!

We drove our Landcruiser to Caer David with hot water bottles at our feet, blankets on our laps and cold air pumping out of the defroster.  We managed to keep the windshield clear, and though uncomfortable, had a perfectly wonderful trip.  We have since had new shocks installed (I can't tell you how wonderful it is!!) and have an appointment to have the heating system looked into.

In the midst of all of these things, our generator quit running - do I have to say it?  Again.  Once more, Miss Serenity and I loaded the genset into the back of the truck and trundled it to the mechanic.  We cobbled parts off another dead generator and soon the mechanic had it purring like a kitten.  At this moment it seems to be running well and we can finally start saving for a backup generator!  Oh, this is living the dream!

Sir Knight and I have been fixing and repairing one system at a time, ticking off the boxes as we go.  The generator has been repaired, the shocks installed and the battery temporarily jumpered.  And finally, after the important things were attended to, my family pooled their money and bought me a "new" computer!  What a joy!!  I have been an Apple fan always.  I began this blog using an iMac and then moved to a MacBook.  After my MacBook died, some wonderful folks sent me a Window's based machine, which was amazing.  Now I have come full circle, with my new MacBook Air.  I'm feeling so spoiled.

My "new" computer
Through the long months of winter, God has been teaching me many, many things.  Although I have been frustrated with one problem after another, I have learned a great deal.  I have learned to give grace where I have been prone to give judgement.  Before Sir Knight and I were hit with one thing after another, I really thought that most of life's problems were self-made.  I assumed that if your car (or generator for that matter) broke down, it was probably because it hadn't been properly maintained.  I had this notion that if you did the right things, life worked and if you did the wrong things, life went wrong.  Our long winter taught me that sometimes, bad stuff just happens.  That in reality, you can do all the right things and still, life takes a left turn.  It made me realize that we all need grace, mercy and encouragement, regardless of life's circumstances.

I am grateful for our long winter.  It has removed some of my pride and made me look at my fellow man with grace.  It has refined a few of the rough edges of my character.

Onward and upward!  Come on spring!!


  1. Yep - ! If it is not one thing it is another. Things just don't last like they used to and they sure are expensive. Old refrigerators and freezers ran forever. About all I can say is that cars go. I remember my dad buying cars with 20 to 30k on them and unloading them at 75 -80k. We buy cars with 80 or more on them. The current one we got at 155K and it is now at 231k, but I don't know how much more. They go! Oh - and years ago we broke a shock on a Geo Metro (bad gravel roads) - yes it was on the road - and in the middle. Natodakn

  2. Enola,
    You are amazing. Your family doesn't make lemonade with your lemons, you make lemon meringue pie! You have the ability to look at a situation, clear your mind of emotion and make sound decisions. I am inspired every time I read your blog. Thank you for being so real and sharing both the good and the not so good.
    God bless you and yours!

    1. Firemedicjean;
      I'm SO glad to hear from you! I managed to lose your last email....again! I would love to email, so shoot me a message when you get a chance! I'll try not to lose it this time! I hope you are having a wonderful March - buried in snow!! Perhaps I'll have a chance to meet you soon!


  3. I am so glad to see you up and running again. I always learn so much from you. The Lord has blessed you with wonderful wisdom. Welcome back.

  4. I am so glad to hear that you love the blog! The reason is that I love reading it! Sorry for all your recent mechanical troubles my son just had to spend $1000 to get the truck clutch replaced he was discussed because it only had 130,000 miles on it. I too can remember when 70 to 80,000 miles was considered to be worn out.

  5. I admire your grit. Thanks for sharing.
    Montana Guy

  6. I needed to hear this... the tears have welled up and the Holy Spirit has used your words. I too at times am judgmental. Thank you for the reminder. And I'm glad you are back up and running.

  7. Busted shocks aren't that unusual..sort of like being in a boat when it happens. Can be scary on curvy roads, though(in a 1979 Chevette). Try heating up bricks and placing them on the dash. This is what I did with my old Comet until I replaced the thermostat(easy), and in my old VW(the old ones didn't really have a defroster or heater-just a vent that burned your left foot. It got the heat off the exhaust system since old VWs were air cooled. Four bricks in a oven got me to work, and at work I could heat them up with a torch. A piece of "Firecode" ceiling tile or something is a good idea for setting a hot brick on..especially if it's a plastic dash.
    Is that a forklift battery, or one meant for a big stationary generator? Looks like it. Part of my last job involved taking care of about 750 kilowatts of generators. Some batteries are meant to be repaired, others are more difficult. I'm willing to bet many "24 volt" things will operate just fine between 18 to 30 volts(charging voltage is around 28 to 30,or it was on the old backup generators at my last job), much in the same way many "12 volt" things are fine with 10 to 16 volts. Murphy's Law cannot be plea-bargained with, you just gotta deal with it..and maybe get a laugh out of it if you can.
    At my last job, serious "engineering" was called Institute For Advanced MacGyverism...
    with one exception, I've gotten well over 200,000 miles on my cars("Got to the Moon"-some have headed into interplanetary space). My Nissan has 263,000..

  8. We try so hard. We think everything through to the best course of action. We foolishly think we have everything under control. We are truly surprised when we discover that we do not.
    Grace, not judgement ... a lesson I hope to learn and live. Thanks for the nudge. D.J.

  9. Thank you for sharing your trials, sometimes we get locked into a it only happens to me mind set, (like myself). It is good to remember that others are having struggles also. And that with God's help we will overcome. May you be blessed with a bright and fruitful spring!!

  10. Wow, quite the winter. I'm glad to see you back and posting again and I hope you have a joyous spring (as soon as it gets to you!).

  11. You are right about those left turns. For the last 45-50 years I have placed the blame squarely on the imagined bureaucrat toiling away at his desk with a 'hard' button assigned to us. Whenever we see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, he fulfills his duty and soundly hits that button. But the reality is stuff happens in spite of our best efforts.

  12. Jumpering across the weak cell of the battery bypasses that cell allowing the remainder of the battery to operate without it but it also shorts that cell out.
    I believe Sir Knight knows what he is doing but others reading the blog may not appreciate the implications of this.
    * Shorting the cell will rapidly dissipate all the remaining energy in the cell as heat. If the cell is totally discharged/dead this isn’t a problem however depending on how much energy remains in the weak cell and what the internal impedance is this may result in a rapid climb in temperature of the cell. I’m assuming these are lead-acid batteries. While there is unlikely to be enough energy in the weak cell to boil the acid; doing so would be ‘unpleasant’. (Having boiling acid sprayed in your face as the pressure causes the battery to vent will spoil your day)
    * Shorting out the cell will totally discharge it, destroying it forever. This may not be an issue if the cell has been considered no longer serviceable but it is something to consider before taking this action.