Thursday, May 26, 2011

The sound of silence

I love my husband, and I love spending time with him. He’s been retired since we moved to Jacksonville more than eight years ago. During more than five of those eight years, I worked outside of the home and Jim was my “house husband.” It was a great arrangement, and I loved it. I mean, how many wives do you know whose husbands have dinner waiting for them when they came home from work?
For the last three years, however, I have worked at home, about half-time. We’ve been able to golf, go shopping, and do anything else around my flexible freelance work schedule. It has been great. And despite being together full time, we haven’t gotten on each other’s nerves (too much).
As I become more “retired” (I still choke on that word), we anticipate traveling in our motorhome, and we will be spending even more face time together. But togetherness has its limits. I mean, how much can you talk about when the only other person you’ve seen all day is the one sitting next to you?
Whenever we have traveled, we have filled car-time with recorded books. (Fortunately, we usually enjoy the same genre.) When we took “Baby” out for its maiden voyage, we thought we could listen to recorded books through our new entertainment center. I noted, however, that the CD/DVD player was above the driver’s head. Jim could not change CDs while he was driving, and it would be hazardous for me to try, lurching along at 60 mph. Safety was a moot point, however. We discovered that the entertainment center is not wired to be used while the motorhome is in motion, so the new CD/DVD player wouldn’t work while we were driving. Probably a safety measure, don’t you think? (I mean, some drivers might be tempted to watch TV instead of keeping their eyes on the road.)
I’ve always said there is more than one solution to any problem, so I found another way to listen to our library mystery—my laptop computer. Unfortunately, that did not work out, either. The speakers were not loud enough to overcome road noise. So, for the four days we were on the road, Jim and I had to resort to old-fashioned conversation and (yes) silence.
As soon as we got home, Jim researched AM/FM car radios with a CD player. Baby came with one, mind you, but it did not work. So we ordered a new one, a nice Sony that even has an audio plug (so I can plug in my laptop and listen to downloaded books), and a USB port. Since the old radio had been a Sony, we thought it would be a snap to plug it in and begin listening to NPR.
Not quite.
Remember, I said the old radio didn’t work? Jim plugged everything into the wiring from the old set, and—you guessed it—the new radio failed to turn on—despite the fact that the wires were “hot.”
He tried everything, and both he and I researched the topic on the Web. To no avail. “It’s got to be something simple,” I told him. He agreed, but we couldn’t find the solution. I suggested he go across the street from the RV dealer and talk with the young fellow who owned a (very loud) car stereo shop.
The next day, before he could make the short walk across the street, however, the shirtless stereo-shop owner with bleached blond hair and colorful tattoos running along his arms, abs, and back came over to the RV place to ask Ed for a favor. Jim happened to be there, and he told blond boy our problem.
“Hey, man. That’s easy,” said the tattooed kid. “Splice the red and yellow wire together and then plug it in.” I don’t remember why this was supposed to work. But, I’m happy to tell you the kid knew what he was talking about. It worked. (We wondered if the old radio had ever been wired correctly. We probably did not have to buy a new one.)
So, the next time Jim and I take Baby out (and that will be in a couple of weeks, complete with the cats), we won’t have to sit in silence any more and stare at the passing palm trees.
Any suggestions for a good books-on-tape mystery?

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