We are still in South Carolina for a couple more weeks. The other day I came to the realize that there are different things to be weary of here than in Connecticut. In Connecticut I am used to being mindful of bears, rottweilers off their leash, an occasional rattlesnake and brain dead drivers. South Carolina has a different list. And, the list does not begin and end with crocodiles.
A couple evenings ago we went to a small music event in our community. I took a couple chairs from the patio for the outdoor event. Afterwards, while carrying them back to the patio in the dark — there are copperheads around here! I replaced the chairs in the morning.
Yesterday we went to the beach on Hilton Head. The water is delightfully warm and the day, sunny. We go to Bert’s Beach, a bit of a hike to the beach but plenty of parking. Swimming around like a kid, I suddenly noticed that I was being attacked by fish. The fish were small and harmless but the first encounter was startling. But, there are sharks around here. A little while later the lifeguard ran up and down the beach blowing a whistle; all the swimmers left the water. There was a pod of dolphins traveling the length of the beach, (probably eating those little fish that were trying to eat me). There had been a shark reported in the middle of the pod of dolphins hence the alarm. The lifeguard said there is a half hour no swim time after a shark sighting, I wonder if that is long enough and if the great white sharks have figured that out, remember “Jaws”? I wonder how many hungry sharks sneak close to the beach without being seen. I will not be taking any midnight swims around here.
A midnight swim reminds of the time, years ago, when I was in the Air Force on temporary duty at Elgin AFB near Panama City, Florida. I had gone there to observe an experiment that a buddy, Dale, was doing. (This was known as a “Boondoggle” in the service). I arrived in the late evening and checked into the BOQ (Bachelor Officer Quarters). The BOQ was near the beach. Not wanting to let this opportunity pass, I decided to take a swim. The beach was closed until the following week but there was nobody around to stop me. It was delightful, swimming toward Cuba through undulating waves in the warm clear water in the moonlight. Then I thought, Sharks. I swam to shore. The next day Dale told me about all the huge sharks his wife had seen from the pier that was close to the base.
I cannot forget the alligators here in South Carolina. We have been warned to carry a flashlight at night when walking dog. The alligators are, evidently, nocturnal and travel from pond to pond at night. I was also warned that golfers need to be aware and not reach for that ball that is in the water and close to shore. My golf game is bad enough without having to play one armed.
Back in Connecticut I have often commented, with a degree of irrigation, that I cannot escape the sound of a motor. I venture out onto the deck and, it seems, I always here the sound of some type of engine. Lawn mowers, leaf blowers, snow blowers, chain saws, wood chippers, stump grinders. Every manner of mechanical apparatus is polluting the quiet. When I take a hike in the woods and stop at a ledge overlooking a pastoral valley, I would hear trucks, chainsaws or airplanes overhead. Irritating.
Yesterday morning I took dog for her morning walk. (A fellow once suggested that I referred to Sheba as “dog” or “animal” because I did not feel she was worthy of a definite article. I hardly use “animal” any more because some people that do not know me, get upset). We are currently in South Carolina. Well, when we went out the front door I was taken by the silence. I could only hear water cascading in the brook behind the house and a lone tree frog. I thought, what a delight. Then came the hum of a transformer, an air conditioner started and a car drove by. End of the magic, or was it?
The tinnitus that I experience reminds me that my hearing is not what it used to be. I should be grateful for every sound I hear. Even though the subtitles in the high range escape me these days. So, bring on the wood chippers and snow blowers as well as Mozart and Thiloneous Monk and don’t forget Johnny Cash. I am grateful for all sounds. After all, an eternity of silence is all too soon approaching.
Note: It is important to guard one’s precious hearing. Always wear ear protection in an area over 90 dB (you will know 90 dB because it is unmistakably loud, ear protection is in order before that point). Wear protection when mowing the lawn.
Spending time in our new place in South Carolina is a big change from our home in New England. With that big change comes a lot of little changes and challenges. Where is the best grocery store (there is no Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s), hardware store and fish monger? At first we are like tourists, going to the rustic and colorful local establishments. Today we went to the local farmers market and got she crab soup, it was delicious but probably not a wise purchase for someone trying to be diet conscious. It isn’t long before the prices will make me feel foolish and I start looking for alternatives. One particular guy thing that I am having to face is, “Where do I get the oil changed on the car?” This is particularly troublesome for me because I am a bit of a gear head.
Back in Connecticut the oil change issue has evolved into a social happening. I take my car over to Bob’s. Bob has a pit in his garage. I buy a five gallon jug of Mobile 1 and a Fram filter at Walmart (about $26.00 for the oil and less than $10.00 for the filter). Drive to Bob’s and can change the oil in about fifteen minutes. Bob even recycles the oil, he has a buddy that uses it to heat his garage. But, in reality the oil change process takes over an hour. We talk at length about cars, projects we are doing around the house and politics. When I am under the car I check for any other damage or issue with the car that cannot be seen from above.
I tend to be fussy about my car. Perhaps this one in particular because it is new. I do not trust, at all, the dealer in Connecticut because they have a bad service reputation.
That reminds of a story told to me by Bob about his son-in-law. The lad brought his new car to the dealership for service religiously. He would not let Bob change the oil on his new car, his pride and joy. Finally, years later he deigned to let Bob do the honors. Great effort was required to get the filter off. When it finally came off, the oil was so thick that it nearly did not drain from the filter. Seems that although paying top dollar for service, the service was seldom if ever performed. The last time I owned a new car, I also took it to the dealership for service the first couple of years I owned it. Finally I stopped. When it eventually came time to change the cabin air filter I had a revelation. To change the filter, required the removal of the glove box and the removal of a brace that had been used to support the dashboard during assembly. The brace was still in place. Without the removal of the brace it is not possible to get access to the filter. Although I had paid the dealership in the past for a new cabin air filter, it had never been replaced.
So, what to do about changing the oil in Bluffton?
I can’t take it out in the desert and open the drain plug. No, I didn’t ever do this but it has been known to happen back in the day. Besides, no desert here.
Bob’s garage pit is 900 miles away.
I would be embarrassed to let the local dealership rip me off. I would have to wear a disguise after my comments above.
I could ask a local guy. A local guy would know.
I asked Pete. Pete is working on the place next door. As it turns out, Pete changes his own oil and doesn’t trust any of the local dealerships. Pete called over the carpenter supervisor. After some in depth discussion we settled on a local place. By the way, the carpenter supervisor also changes his own oil and doesn’t trust the dealerships. It made me feel good to be in the company of other gear heads and comforting to know that any readers of this missive will understand that I am not alone with my peculiar ideas regarding oil changes. It should be noted that I was also cautioned to go over the process with the mechanic and mark my oil filter so I could make sure that the filter was changed.
So I phoned the shop and made an appointment for next week, the earliest I could get in. It was good to hear that they are so busy that I had to wait a week.
There is another extreme to the oil change dilemma. When I lived in Pittsburgh I worked with a senior engineer, Regis. Regis had the notion that one added oil but should not change it. He would keep the oil at the proper level but left it in place for as long as he owned the car. His idea was that the built up sludge would prevent oil leaks. I don’t believe I would buy a car from Regis.