December 11th, 2001


Larry's Birthday

Haven't updated in a few days. Another bunch of posts in a row...

Friday night, we went to Larry's birthday party. It was a very nice party, with a chance to see lots of former Claritechers. Lots of sitting around chatting, which is a great thing to do at a party.

The party included a catered dinner which included chicken pot pie. This made me nostalgic for my great-aunt's chicken pot pie. Once in a while, we would drive up to McKinney to visit Aunt Lois. My biggest memories of those trips are her chicken pot pie, and the pool table in her side room where I would play while the grown-ups talked.

Car Repair

Sunday's big goal for me was to get Les's help replacing the heater hoses that he'd helped me patch.

Unfortunately, things got rather bogged down at step one, buy the new hoses. At a stop sign at the top of the hill, my car died and wouldn't start up again. Bleah.

With Lori steering, I managed to push it across the intersection and into a parking lot--but the parking lot was raised, and I couldn't push it any farther. But about six men in two cars stopped and helped us push it all the way into the parking lot. People are cool. :)

One guy stuck around for a bit trying to help us get it started, but to no avail. So we walked back home and used Lori's car for our errands.

At the auto parts store, I discovered two important facts about the heater hoses for the Ford Aerostar: a) they are custom hoses that cost $27.99 each (I needed two), and b) this store did not have them in stock. However, the nice salesman offered that there was a good chance that normal hoses might work, and I could bring in the old hoses and he'd give me a judgment of whether he could just cut me a length of standard hose.

Eventually we got back to our house, called Les, and he came out. We went up to the minivan and tried to start it. It started right off the bat, twice in a row.

So we planned again to drive to his house and use his well-equipped garage to change the hoses. But I had a few things at the house that would help us; a repair manual, a few gallons of antifreeze, etc.

The car died again just as I was about to pull into the driveway. I managed to coast into a safely parked position in front of the house.

Well, then. Neither of us wanted to take the risk of trying to drive to Les's house.

Les suspected the fuel filter. So we disconnected the hoses and went back to the auto parts store for hoses, a hose patch kit, and a fuel filter.

Changing the fuel filter was fairly straightforward--Les did it, since he was running low on time.

Replacing the hoses was a bit more work, and involved moments of me lying on my back under the car with cold dirty water running down my sleeve. It also involved the discovery that the hose was 5/8" in diameter instead of 3/4", which led to a third trip to the auto parts store to exchange things. And then there was a later discovery that the custom hose being replaced was 5/8" in one part and 3/4" in another, and a difficult attempt to fit a 5/8" hose over a 3/4" flange (a process roughly equivalent to trying to fit my hips into slacks with a 30" waistline).

But eventually, all these fixes were made. The car works much better now. And once again, I'm extremely grateful for Les's help.

Sunday Dinner, Dec-09-2001

A quick rundown on Sunday dinner:

Monica had told us on Friday that she would be bringing latkes, because it was the first evening of Hanukkah. We thought about trying to make a Hanukkah-themed dinner, but our plans were complicated by our infamiliarity with Jewish culture. We found one menu in a cookbook, with a sweet-and-sour brisket that sounds good, but we didn't have the time to spend on it.

We ended up making salmon cakes. This was another of those Sunday dinners that got served really late (around 8:30) because of the cooking time--I always feel a bit embarrassed when that happens.

Monica's latkes were very tasty. She said they were supposed to be crispier, but they tasted fine to me.

The oatmeal raisin cookies that Paul and Mary brought (which we ate as an appetizer; see comments about late meal above) were also very tasty.

We had intended to make a dessert, but it was so late when we were done with dinner that Lori had the bright idea of serving some of our chocolate stash instead. This was a very good idea.

After dinner, we played Apples to Apples, which was quite the sort of light, fluffy game that I wanted to play. It was pretty darn fun.

Salmon Cakes with Mustard Sauce
Oatmeal Cookies

Apples to Apples