Fixing What’s Broke

Nothing stresses me more than a broke down vehicle. And practically nothing pleases me as much as fixing a broke down vehicle.


Right now I’m staring at a tore down Little Wing. I’m listening to jazz in my dream garage and wondering what comes next. I need a rear tire replacement so that’s off. I will be doing an oil change, a new air filter, new front brake pads, new seals and a total clean up. It all starts with a putting a single wrench to that first bolt.

Right now, I’m just sitting. Listening to some classy jazz from a great station somewhere in the Bay Area.


The first time I experienced the extreme stress of a loss of wheels was when my truck was stolen out of my apartments parking lot in 2012. It was Labor Day weekend. I was cat sitting for a friend while she was gone. I woke up and tossed on some shlumpy clothes and ran downstairs to get the responsibility out of the way early. When I reached the parking lot I looked to the light pole where I always parked and saw my spot was empty. My heart sank. My breath caught. I felt like screaming, but my lungs seemed to be shrunk and shriveled and unable to complete the task. Instead I picked up my lead feet and slowly made my way around the building, picking up momentum as I went.

“Maybe. MAYBE I just parked somewhere else last night” I thought in vain.

I hadn’t and I knew it. I was practically hyperventilating when I ran around to my parking spot again. Shaking hands grabbed the cellphone out of my pocket, and dialed 911.

I filed my first police report that day. I ended up taking my bicycle to feed the cats and found myself sobbing behind a bush at my friends house as I told my sister the story over the phone. She was living in Alaska and thought the text I had sent earlier was a joke, but she was comforting and appropriately angry for me as I told her the truck really had been stole.

My sister sold me her broken down car that was left behind in Minnesota. I paid to get it fixed. But in the week it took to get a new clutch put in I had to rely on friends to get to and from work. I felt helpless and made some dumb promises to myself about how it would never happen again. And that right there, them promises, is why I’m sitting here stressed staring at my tore down bike.

I decided to learn how to fix my own vehicles after that, but I also planned to never be without a running engine again.

I got my truck back on 10/11/2012. The officers found it behind a ball field only 30 miles away from my apartment. The tranny fluid was dry, so I’m assuming the thief knew nothing about mechanics and just decided to drop it when they couldn’t get it moving. Whoever the perp was they didn’t bother to look behind the seat to see the two quarts of transmission fluid for just such occasions. Or if they did they didn’t put two and two together. The thief did bother to snag my boom box I had in the truck. A lack of speakers meant a portable boom box, and apparently it was appealing to the thief. I drove the truck back to the apartment with the police officer following me to make sure it didn’t blow.


Since that day I haven’t had less than two vehicles.

The car broke down again, the truck, Ol Smokey (named for Smokey and the Bandit and also the smoke that leaks out of the shoddy pipe), became my main transport. I bought a 1985 Honda Rebel, putting my vehicle count at three, and my wheel count at ten. My truck broke down a week before I got the Rebel, and after I got the Rebel it became my main means of transportation. I rode it from April to July, up until I snagged Little Wing. After getting Little Wing home I couldn’t ride him for two weeks til all tuneups could be completed. I had four vehicles and 12 wheels… except really only 11 because Little Wing had a rear tire that needed replacing. I still only had one that was road worthy. I got Little Wing fixed up and then I was ready to ride — either of the two bikes I had. In August I finally had time to fix the truck and since then I have had three working vehicles and one that is out of commission.


A broken down truck, a working Rebel, and a torn apart Little Wing.

Now, here I am, an owner of three running vehicles eight wheels (except only seven because Little Wing has a rear tire that needs replacing), and I can not go anywhere with any of my engines. I’m in California and my other two vehicles are in Minnesota. The one bike I have sits in front of me dismantled, and the next step is to fix it.

Promises of not being without a vehicle are useless and false when wants to live a life young, free, and without a fancy, dependable, vehicle. My mind doesn’t want to accept this fact, it hasn’t wrapped itself around it since the day my truck wasn’t in it’s parking spot. Well, I can either be stressed or I don’t have to. Time to make a choice. I have got to fix my attitude and my bike.

But first I just have to pick up one wrench.


A naked Little Wing says goodnight. More wrenching tomorrow.


4 thoughts on “Fixing What’s Broke

  1. Motorized vehicles! Just like people, they need lots of TLC ! Yours are fortunate to have an owner who recognizes this and has the brains and fortitude to DIY!
    They are also fortunate because they are of a vintage when DIY was an art and the computer age had not yet spread it’s ugly tendrils into every moving part of our modes of transportation! Imagine being a teenager and having your driving remotely observed (at every turn) by your parents! Obscene! ( Even this stodgy old lady rebels at that!)
    So, pick up that wrench, my dear, and twist, pull, drain, fill, and do whatever you do with love and care and , hopefully, your little motorbugs will set records for longevity and you can then buy a late model which will give you nothing but recalls!


    • I have so much to look forward to in way of new vehicles it sounds. Nah, I do love my fixer upers. A lot of love and a lot of drama. It adds to the adventure and keeps me from searching out more drama in life. This is all I need for now. Thank you for the words Judy!


  2. I think one of your greatest skills is your willingness to tackle the tough job. You jump right in to figure out what needs to be done. That is a wonderful skill!

    love, chuck & Marilyn


    • Thank you! Necessity is the mother of invention, as all long term motorcyclists seem to know. I appreciate the positive words quite a bit.


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