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The past two days have really put me through the wringer.  Tuesday, I had to go to the VA Hospital in Armadillo for an auditory exam.  This entailed a two-hour bus ride each way.  The bus is provided by the VA and I had to be at the local clinic at 7:45 a.m. to catch it.  As buses go, it’s a small one, seating only 24 people.  The heater was broken, so the bus driver passed out blankets, as it was right chilly at that hour of the morning. People made a point of grabbing the window seats at the earliest opportunity, because the seats are quite narrow, and the aisle seat is rather precarious.  Unfortunately, I had to sit in the aisle seat both going and coming.  There were 17 of us to begin with and we picked up two more along the way.  Only two of us were women and both of us sat in the first row of seats.  I had to sit next to a bearded old coot both ways and the seats were so narrow there was no way I could sit without us touching.  Even so, I only had about 75% of the seat to sit on, and the ride was rather uncomfortable.  The driver handed out badges on lanyards to all of us at the start of the ride, and collected them again when the bus returned to our local clinic.

The bus driver told those of us who had not ridden the bus before that when we got to the VA Hospital to go straight to the place where our appointments were, register, and tell them we were on the bus from elsewhere, and if they had any cancellations or no-shows, they would fit us in earlier than our appointments.  That was good to know as the bus arrived at 10:15 (one of the passengers we picked up was in a wheel chair — a double amputee– and they had to use the wheel chair lift to get him on the bus, which took a bit more time than picking up the other passenger, who was able to board the bus under his own steam).  I made it to the audiology clinic by 11:00, reported in for my 2:00 o’clock appointment.  Another fellow bus rider had an appointment at 1:45 p.m.  Less than 20 minutes later, the audiology lady came and got me and took me back to the sound suite (they’d evidently had a no-show/cancellation).  By the time I was through, the other guy had returned from getting coffee, and they took him early as well.

After my appointment, I got a “classic”  BLT and a serving of “tater salad” (which was OK but not as good as mine) from the canteen, and then headed back down to the lobby to wait until the bus departed — which was about 2:15 p.m. — for the windy, dusty, hot ride back. I armed myself for the travel and wait time with knitting and a book, and ended up knitting going, and waiting, but coming back, I dozed as much as one can hanging on to the arm rest on a bus doing 70 mph down the highway being buffeted by rather stiff cross winds.

On my way home, I decided give myself a treat to make up for the unfun day I’d had by stopping at a favorite Chinese restaurant, “The Fortune Cookie,” which is about four blocks from my parent’s house, and getting some food to take away.  As I was coming to the intersection across from the restaurant, my cell phone rang.  Since I was driving, it was in my pocket right next to the seat belt buckle and very difficult to access while driving, I let it ring.  Once I’d gotten in the restaurant and was waiting for my take away order, I checked my missed calls:  Three from my mother, and one from my BFF.  (??!!) I called my mom, only to discover she had forgotten I was supposed to go out of town, had been trying to call me all day, and was just about to put her coat on to go over to my house, convinced something terrible had happened to me.  Bless her heart.  She was trying to call me to tell me to come at 11 o’clock instead of 9:30 to “daddy sit” on Wednesday.  She called my BFF wondering if I was over there helping her pack, and got my BFF all excited.  I had four voice mails on my land line when I got home, three from her and one from my BFF.  I called my BFF and reassured her.  She asked me if I would look at her computer again.  It was locking up and otherwise misbehaving.  She wanted to bring it by Wednesday evening.

Wednesday, I went to stay with my dad while my mom was gone to the meeting of this club she belongs to.  That was, by far, the easiest part of my day.  On my way home, when I stopped to turn onto the access road of “The Loop,”  the brake of my right rear wheel made this loud grinding noise — definitely a metal on metal sound that boded ill.  I stopped at a brake place about 4 blocks from my house, and had them check it out.  It was about 4:30 by that time.  Because I had left my cell phone at home, I decided to walk home, and have them call me with the results of their look-see.  Walking home turned out to be a big mistake because my shoes rubbed a lovely little quarter-sized blister on the ball of my left foot.  Once I got home and got my shoe and sock off, I could see it was filled with bloody fluid instead of the usual clear fluid that fills a blister.  I bathed it liberally in alcohol and let the fluid out, which you’re not supposed to do, but which would have happened anyway, sooner rather than later, because of the blister’s location, so best to do it under controlled circumstances than have it rupture (and make a mess).  I put a big square Band-Aid on it and tapped the Band-Aid on.  That sucker hurt, I can tell you.  Then I sat down and had my supper of almond chicken (a stir fry with vegetables and morsels of chicken in a white sauce topped with slivered almonds), egg roll and fried wontons.  After supper, I sat down at the computer to check email.

At about 4:40, the guy at the brake place called, introduced himself as “Elvis” (What were his parents thinking?!) and gave me the bad news.  Turns out my back brakes were completely nonfunctional because, among other things, the brake cylinders were corroded to the point where they were actively leaking brake fluid, and that for some time my car had been stopping using the front brakes alone, and my front brakes were on their last legs!  Not only that but my rear suspension was pretty well shot.  To fix the brakes on all four wheels including practically rebuilding the brake on the right rear wheel would be $880.00/£580.00, and to fix the rear suspension, too, would bring the total to — are you read for this? — upwards of $1700.00/£1120!!  The car would be safe to drive without fixing the rear suspension, but the brakes have to be fixed, or it’s only a matter of time before the front brakes (the only ones still working!) give out.  The famous Toyota “Crayola”  (Corolla) is a 1987 model, and once I thought about it, in the 26 years I’ve had it, I’ve never had the brakes worked on.  Toyota claims that 80% of all the Toyotas ever made are still on the road, and it’s no exaggeration.  They’re tough little cars.  So I told Elvis to fix the brakes on all four wheels, and we’d deal with the suspension at a later date.  He’s supposed to call me tomorrow when the car is ready (they were waiting on a part, of course) and my mom will come get me and take me to pick up my car.

My BFF brought her computer by.  It keeps freezing up.  I have tried repeatedly to do a virus scan on it using Malwarebytes, a Symantec scan from the Geek Squad website and the jive version of McAfee that ATT provides free, and have not been able to complete a scan using any of them because the computer kept freezing up. Not only that, McAfee kept wanting to update and said the computer was unprotected. Finally, I got the McAfee diagnostic tool to complete its diagnosis and figured out that it was a problem with a recent McAfee update that screwed up the DAT file and that every time McAfee tried to update, it kept kicking the computer off line.  So now I’ve got to uninstall McAfee, try to do a virus scan again, and/or try to do a Malwarebytes scan again, and then redownload McAfee.  I’ve been futzing with it for hours now, but maybe this will sort it out.

As for my car, take it on home, Elvis!

*One of my favorite scenes in “Men In Black.”