Friday, June 18, 2010

Grease up to the elbows... [Learning to change a starter.]

So my car was fixed. Went to pick it up and tried to start it... 10 minutes later I am talking to the mechanic. He told me the starter was dying and gave me a quote. Seeing as I had just payed him for fixing my car I wasn't inclined to immediately fork over more for it. So I spent some more time and got it to start. Drove it home and immediately looked up the price for my starter. For $140 dollars less than the quote I was given I could purchase a new starter. The YouTube video on how to change a starter didn't look to tough. I mean... how bad can it really be to unhook 2 wires and take out 2 bolts. Piece of cake, right?

Five minutes later, I'm out starting under my hood. Trying my hardest to locate the starter. That ever so elusive starter. Staring, searching, time passes... 15 minutes later my neighbor Darren is walking Jeffrey (my little brother) back over from martial arts practice. He gives me the information that I am lacking. The starter is located under the engine. Oh, silly me! [Note to self: next time you decide to look for a part under the hood... find a diagram or something so that you are actually looking in the right place.] Another neighbor, Craig, dropped by and offered the use of his jack. Once he got the car up he was able to show me where the starter was. He also showed me the wire that leads from my battery to the starter. Disconnected the battery and he went off to his house to grab his tools because he didn't want to wait. Joey (my brother) was on his way with tools. Mom got out the car repair ramps and my brother towed my car up onto them. Then Joey proceeded to take out the starter. This thing was a pain to get into because of the heat shield that he had to remove first. Unfortunately, car manufacturers must not think of ease of repair when putting together the engine. The top bolt is a pain to get to. My brother had to climb up onto the car and reach his hand down through in a very odd angle to even get at the bolt and getting at it from the bottom is even trickier. He was able to get it out just in time to head off to the shooting range (he was meeting buddies there). So my Craig told me he would help me install it once I bought it.

So most of my morning and part of my afternoon was spent on my car. I'm so glad Craig has a creeper (one of those rolling skateboard like things that make working on a car so much nicer!). His style of aiding in car repair for others is to teach them how - so that if they ever need to do the repair again, they can. So I got to try out a creeper and go under a car and put the starter in. Hooked up the wires only to have to unhook the little one again because it was in the way of tightening the bigger one. It took us quite some time to discover that we needed a 13 mm socket for the ratchet. The old one had used a 14 mm. We eventually got that one on and the little wire reattached. Then came the bolt and nut. One bolt is attached to the car and just needs a washer and nut placed on it. Unfortunately, that is the bolt on the underside. If they were thinking, they would of put that one on top. It would have been so much nicer. So putting the washer and nut on was easy, but you can't tighten it yet. Now for the top bolt that threads into the car. The one you have to snake your hand around things to even reach from the underside. The one that you need to get a step stool out to even reach from the topside unless you want to kneel up on the car frame (like my brother did). Yeah, time for that bolt.

You know, putting in a bolt should take what - three minutes at most? I mean, come on. You get two holes to line up and thread the thing. Piece of cake, right? Wrong. One hour later and I am up to my elbows in grease. Did I mention the cars an 87 and the engine is filthy? [Side note: apparently you can wash your engine. I never knew this - had never even heard of it. There are a few things you don't want water in. I was informed that the nearby car wash has an engine and undercarriage setting. I may give that a try.] So I'm under the car fiddling with the starter (those things are surprisingly heavy) to try and get the hole to line up so that the bolt will move to no avail.

Enter step stool. I had to snake my arm down and around all sorts of things to get to the bolt and hole. My fingers kept slipping off and I just couldn't get a good grip on it. Called my bro to see if he could come back by after shooting to fix it. He said he'd swing by. Headed back outside to find out that another neighbor, Austin, had dropped by and that his girlfriend's sister (who just happens to be studying to be a mechanic) was willing to give it a go. She was successful in getting it started and most of the way in. Then Austin tightened it the rest of the way as well as tightening the nut on the underside. We reattached all the pieces on top that we had moved out of the way. Secured the hoses and hooked up the battery.

I hop in to start it. Craig commented that if it didn't start now it means it was the battery. Thankfully, I wasn't worried about the battery (seeing as the battery was purchased just over a week ago). Turn the key and... started! Happy day! My car is fixed and five of us are covered in grease.

So, in retrospect, I would totally do this again. I learned a lot about my car. I got to chat a lot with my neighbors. And I didn't have to fork over an additional $140 dollars to a mechanic. I also found 6 four-leaf clovers. So a good totally unplanned day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rainy Day

It's been raining all day. but I like it. The plants are enjoying their shower.

Took my car in to get fixed this morning. Got a laugh out of being the only one able to start it (Mom & Bevan both flooded the engine in their attempts). Guess after a week and a half of driving it I have gotten the hang of it. Anyway, haven't heard back on it yet. I'm hoping that it is something simple that fixes the issue of it shaking and dying at each stop (unless I put my left air-casted foot on the brake and tap lightly on the gas with my right foot). You really don't realize how many times your stop on the way to and from work until your car decides to die at each one.

My foot is all sorts of fun colors right now and I should only have to wear the air-cast for 2 more days (yay!). Then I can ease myself back into my workouts (oh how I've missed them!). I'll be glad to be rid of the annoying cast. The air on the left side leaks out pretty quick now - so I either constantly put more air in or ignore the pain caused by rubbing.

I am currently busy inputting vocab words on an electronic flashcard side (fantastic site: for my students to use. I think that it will really help them with memorization of vocab., states, dates, and math facts. I'm really enjoying the summer hours at work. The students are in much better moods because they aren't coming from a full day of school. Some of them had the giggles today and I had to laugh when one of them was in shock that I had played and beaten Twilight Princess (Legend of Zelda). You can imagine the look of shock on his face when I told him that I own and can play an Ocarina. Guess the idea that video games are for male adolescents is still pretty popular.

Tomorrow is my project day - babysitting the kids for my mom in the morning and hoping to get some projects done in the afternoon. I'd like to get some sewing done. I've got a onesie to turn into a t-shirt for the adorable darling I watched during the school year. (She's potty training and onesies just don't work for that!) I would also like to get my second flag sewn so that I can give Amy back her flag.

Tomorrow evening, my sis and her boyfriend will be up for a visit. Should be a lot of fun. They are coming up to celebrate Father's day. I'm really hoping the gift we got Dad will arrive in time. I know that he is going to love it! (Sorry, you'll have to be kept in suspense until he gets it. There is no way I want to chance ruining the surprise.)

Saturday, June 12, 2010


I finally get to sit down. Today was a really busy day. I woke up early and went into work to get some things ready for the upcoming busy start of summer hours before my students arrived. Work went smoothly - the students are great.

Rushed home from work to pile into the van with my parents and younger siblings to head to a family reunion of sorts and see relatives I haven't seen in a while. It was a lot of fun to hear the stories. My grand uncle Randy commiserated with me on the ankle injury. It seems that when he was installing coke machines at a new restaurant for work one year he had slipped on ice and broke his ankle. Said the popping sound sounding like a 22 going off. Then my grand aunt Ree (I think that's how she's related to me) was telling me about the cougar that had wandered onto her property. She was going out to get the mail with her dog when she saw a cougar lying beside her driveway. She called her dog back and the dog came running, but so did the cougar. Bit the dog's head and Ree's reaction was to kick the cougar in the head. She didn't want it to get her dog. The cougar let go, the dog ran into the house, and Ree's initial instinct was to turn around and run into the house to, but then she thought better and started waving wildly and screaming at the cougar. It backed up about 15 yards and just stared at her. She slowly walked into the house and reported the attack to the game warden who said it was highly unusual for a cougar to act that way and granted permission to dispose of it if they should see it again. She was telling me she has pictures of it now, because the next morning it was down by the river on their property and her husband shot it. Her dog is fine. Healing from teeth marks on top of her head, behind her ear, and one in her lip/cheek. Played a washer game in which my grandmother and Ree claimed that they'd do horrible because they can't see well and ended up not doing half bad. Watched Jeffrey and Kandra chase each other around the Usk Lodge. Steven tried to join in and totally tripped. Cousin Kelli (technically she's my first cousin once removed, but cousin is easier to say) rode out on her Harley and when she started it up it scared Jeffrey. By later in the afternoon he was able to over come his fear and Kelli let him sit on it and even rev the engine. He was beaming with happiness. Steven on the other hand ran screaming and crying the second that engine started and jumped anytime any engine started after that. We tried to get him close to the motorcycle once it was off, but he wanted nothing to do with it.

Then we got home with enough time for Mom to change and me to go drop Dad off so that he could pick up his car, before Mom and I needed to be at the church with the goodies she had baked for Sandie's funeral. She was a beautiful woman. A great mother and friend to many. I didn't know her well, but I do know that she always had a smile for me each Sunday. She's the Mother of our worship director Ed. A really fun guy who I think inherited a lot of his love of life and music from his Mom. Turns out she's also the Grandmother of a gal I went to school with and ran into today. I'll have to catch up with Jamie sometime soon. Anyway, Sandie was a published poet and just loved to write poetry. They shared two really wonderful poems of hers in the program and I really want to write them down here.


This child....
Born into September winds.
Dakota dust in her bones
and cradled in sweet prairie grass.
Into winter skies she sang her song;
danced barefoot through spring rain;
tasted the joy of summer's freedom.

This child...
Saw in her mother's eyes
the histories of family and smiled
while in her father's arms - held high,
the stars grew bright
and with her baby fingers
touched tomorrow.

By S.M. Garvas"


From very near I heard the cries
storming sterile rooms
and coming to rest at last on my abandoned belly.
I saw you all...
each face a wrinkled miracle.
There was promise and continuation
while I counted fingers and toes;
my love already nine months comfortable within me.
I searched out separate souls, divided by years,
versioned them limitless...
then waited as each journey began.

First... You.
Silently touching beauty, becoming quietly strong.
Fragile grace and blue moonlight shine from you.
You are cold days, chocolate candy
and carnations in a crystal vase.
You are crisp lettuce and winter snows.
You are perfection personified.
You move through moods like cars on the freeway,
always in motion with tears forever near the surface.
You are stubborn like the grass
clinging to life at desert's edge.
And you are woman.

There was love then... and You.
Oh the smiles that came from your soul!
They touched me with brown velvet
and warmed my weary spirit.
You are summer storms
filled with lightning and crashing thunder.
You are penny arcades, pizza parlors
and pride wrapped in cellophane.
You are salt and pepper and Halloween.
Holding tightly to the child in you,
you grope towards manhood, unafraid... risking.

You came then... riding a raindrop.
Quiet and sure like the steady rain of Fall.
You filled my life with shades of summer green.
You are curiosity and macaroni and cheese.
You are books and school and English tea.
You wear a ready laugh like an extra pocket
and can see smiles everywhere.
You carry comfort and caring and an absent-mindedness
born of tenacious concentration.
You totter on the brink of adolescence.
The awareness growing strong in you.

Sunshine bubbled in through the keyhole and there You were.
Anxious to love and laugh.
You rushed at life like a mountain stream
Tumbling towards low ground in the springtime.
You are the orange-red of fireworks;
The music half hidden in the embers.
You are Yogurt and cheese and the mouse in my heart.
You are giggles and marbles and mess.
You are Christmas with a coke in your hand.
You are eternal questions and dirt on Sunday pants.
You run after the rest, impatient to be always bigger,
and the taste of life is especially sweet for you.

Now the time has moved.
I have watched you all grow.... traveling in this
uncertain, unsettled space.

Four gifts... giving pride and joy...
surprise and affection; unquestioned acceptance,
and total tolerance;

Infecting all with your zest for living.
When the earth has gone black
and only pale shafts of dust remain...

The colors of your souls will still dance
in that softer, shadowy playground.

And in this end time the last whispering
ghosts in the Universe
will know as I do now...

The world is richer because of you.

By S. M. Gavras 1978"

Just like she had written on Easter Sunday - Sandie is now dancing with the Lord. I think the Pastor put it best when he said, "her address has just changed. When a friend moves, we cry because we miss them, but we know we will see them again. This is no different." {I don't claim to have a perfect memory, but that was the gist of it.} The service was beautiful. I'm sure Sandie was smiling down as her son played for her. Amazing Grace made me cry. That's the song they started with and that was the song that I insisted I needed to sing at Mikey's funeral. I had to give him that gift - even though it was hard not to break down as I sang. Mikey's dancing too. Who knows, he may have pulled out a violin to play while Sandie dances. They are both in the Lord's loving arms.

May your life be filled with joy and the little moments and may God's love shine upon you.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I received an e-mail from a weight loss site I post on that said they are closing it down later this week. I've been keeping a weight loss journal there since 2008 and did not want to lose the information. So I've copied it all to this journal. In the process of copying it all over I had the opportunity to review what's worked and what hasn't. The 11 day diet that I tried last year worked. I stopped following it because life got busy and some of the foods are on the spendy side. Now it's time to start that back up and stick with it.

My ankle is doing pretty well. It hurts and is all sorts of colors.

Thyroid results came back - it's enlarged and producing slightly too much hormones, but beyond that it appears fine. Doc wants to check up on it again in 4 months.
So, I was a bit on the klutzy side yesterday... fell down the stairs and sprained my ankle so badly that I had a half-baseball sized knot on my ankle. Went to the ER for my shortest stay (2 hours) to have it x-rayed. Thankfully, no broken bones. Afterwards, I hung out with my Star Wars buddies, among them is a nurse, he was very adamant that I stay off my leg. Seeing as he's bigger than me - I thought it best to comply. Probably a good thing as the swelling went down drastically and if I had just gone home I probably wouldn't have stayed sitting for long.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

So I can put my weight on it now with very little pain. In fact, yesterday it felt so good that I didn't even think twice about moving furniture. Got a good lecture from hubby when he found out. I'm still using the aircast (and will continue to do so for the full two weeks doc instructed). I'm happy that I didn't need to fill the script for the narcotic pain med doc prescribed.

Got my blood work back from the doc yesterday. There is nothing wrong with my thyroid levels. Not necessarily the news I wanted to hear. I go in at 2 today for an ultrasound of my thyroid and hopefully that will help the doc figure out why my thyroid is 3 times the size it should be.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I think the interview went well. They will be getting back to me in the next week and a half to let me know if I am continuing onto the second round of interviews. *crosses fingers* I think it would be a lot of fun working for an online high school. So I really hope that I land the job.

I am doing well. I've been watching my food better lately. Still waiting to hear back from the doctor on the thyroid.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Starting Weight for TLC: 267.6
Last Week's Weight: 261.9
Current Weight: 260.1 (-1.8 lbs)
Total Loss Since Start of Challenge: -7.5 lbs

So this last week was pretty eventful. I had a doc. appt. on Friday and found out that my thyroid gland is swollen.... it's at least 3 times the size that it should be. They drew blood and are sending it away for analysis. I should hopefully find out at the end of the week what is going on. It's possible it is a treatable thyroid issue and may be partially responsible for my struggles with weight. I'm looking forward to getting the results back. It will be nice to know what it is and why my thyroid is swollen.

I'm staying active - lots of Walk It Out, Wii Fit Plus, & Flagging this week.

Found out today that my parents will be able to adopt the little boy we have all fallen in love with. So that is great news.

Time to head off to work. Laters.


He's number 3 of the adopted sibs. There's a 24 year gap between me (oldest) and him (youngest).

I received more great news today. I have an interview for a full time teaching position tomorrow. I am very excited and a bit nervous.