Land and Water

Elena’s learning to be my car and boat maintenance assistant. On Tuesday evening, my car’s battery died so completely that it couldn’t be jump started, but not before stranding me miles from home at rowing practice. Luckily I discovered this while other people were still around and one of them graciously offered to drive me home. The next morning Elena and I returned to the scene to diagnose the problem and fix the car. At first I hoped that the problem was just corroded terminal connections, so I cleaned them off to no effect. While I was working on that, Elena picked some things out of my toolboxes and did some ‘work’ of her own, mostly in the area of the front grille. It was very cute, and amazingly she didn’t lose any of the tools; although one piece dropped into the front of the engine compartment, I was able to recover it.

After I cleaned the terminals and still couldn’t jump start the car, I pulled the battery from Jenny’s car, which we had driven that morning, and hooked it up directly–my car started right up. At that point I realized I could buy a battery and ask Leisa and Sam, who were bringing us dinner that evening, for a ride over there on their way home. Elena and I cleaned up and stowed our tools, then took a look at the rowing shells and walked down to the dock. We saw a crab in the water hanging on to the side of the dock, but Elena was more interested in looking at the coaching launch. She said that she wanted to go coaching with me, and I would love to take her, but with good reason it’s club policy not to take children out. I still need to make good on my promise to take her out on the water in some kind of boat.

We still had time for one more stop, while we were in the area. I’m not sure if I initiated the idea or if Elena requested it, but we headed over the boathouse where my single scull now lives. Almost exactly a year after I wrapped it for storage and shipping, I cut off the plastic wrap and bolted on the rigger. Elena helped me with the rigger–I the nut steady while she turned the wrench on the bolt to tighten it up. I can hardly wait to get out on the water; maybe I’ll get a chance next week.

By that time it was getting pretty late, so we went to a fast food drive through for chicken nuggets and french fries. I wouldn’t call it a reward, but certainly a thank you to Elena for helping me so much. I hope Jenny appreciated having some time alone with baby Roman.


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