Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rebirth, part four: Closed

[ If you're new around here, check out installments one, two and three of Rebirth to make a little more sense of this entry! ]

It was January 15, 2006. I was on a huge high from buying my new (to me) and issue-free car after my Beastmobile got munched. I called my mom to tell her about my car, and she mentioned a teeny weenie little announcement in their church bulletin: "Due to geological concerns, Camp Kawkawa will be closing down at the end of January." And with that, my high came crashing down. That was it. No more information, no warning, nothing. Closed.

I found out a week later at the farewell that the camp had had a geological survey done in hopes that the 20 year building ban on the site would finally be lifted and that they could finally expand and build, having acquired the evidence that the site was indeed safe from landslide risks and other geological activity. It turned out that the survey found just the opposite, and that there was absolutely nothing the camp could do. It's not like they ran out of money and just needed a big fundraising drive. No, the mountain might fall down. Who's gonna send their kids? Any takers?

Hands were absolutely tied, and everyone - in complete shock - made the decision to close the camp.

Armed with a mighty stash of kleenex, I attended the farewell. I took part in some of the activities, but then went off on my own and walked the site. From waterfront to dining hall to field to campfire to cabins to chalets to archery and riflery, to heibertisme, and finally to campfire. Every square inch of that place held vivid memories for me. Some fun, some painful, some deeply profound. I stopped in each place, for each memory, and cried. But I also prayed, committing those memories, those people, that place to God. It was all His, anyway.

Goodbye Kawkawa 014miniGoodbye Kawkawa 057miniGoodbye Kawkawa 068miniGoodbye Kawkawa 041miniGoodbye Kawkawa 021miniGoodbye Kawkawa 054mini

Finally pulling myself together, I went back to the dining hall for the last function that would ever be held there. I remember it as a place that was filled with life - sunlight streaming in, the lake glistening down below, the ear-splitting din of a hundred kids eating and laughing and (more often than not) banging cups and plates and utensils, counsellors doing all manner of wacky things to get their hands on a much-appreciated piece of mail. The dining hall was alive in my memory, but on this day, a frosty, gloomy, January day, that life was dimmed. It was good to see people I hadn't seen in years, but, like at a dear friend's funeral, you wished you weren't seeing them under those circumstances. We hugged, we cried, we prayed. We shared memories and photos, and reassured each other that Kawkawa wasn't really the place, but the people, and that it would never truly be gone. And we only half believed it.

And then we sang. Amidst the sorrow, we worshipped. We didn't understand why God was allowing this to happen. Why God would let such a place used for His glory, such a powerful ministry, come to such a sudden and sad end. But still we knew that God is good, and that He had a plan. If He would let Kawkawa close, surely He had something better in mind, though none of us could imagine what. But we continued to sing.

One song hit me hard. Did I really believe what I was singing?

Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing You pour out I'll
Turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's "all as it should be"
Blessed be You name
And blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out I'll
Turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Really? Could I really sing "Blessed be your name?" Really? And then came the words, like a punch in the gut:

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say,
Lord blessed be Your name

Through my tears I pleaded. "Lord, you gave us this camp. WHY now do you take it away? We've just renovated the chapel, we've just done all this work on the grounds. We have to turn a hundred kids away every summer. Why? WHY now do you yank this way from us? Help me. Help my heart choose to bless your name now. Cause I don't understand. I know you have a plan, somehow, but I just don't get it."

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord blessed be your name...

I drove the two hour drive home alone. I couldn't get that refrain from my head. That, and the words "Closed." "Over." "Empty." "Gone." What would happen to the buildings? Would they just be left to waste away? I pictured the forest taking over, moss growing on the roofs, the walls rotting away. "You give and take away, you give and take away. My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name." Could they sell the land? Who could buy it? It's not like they could build houses there, with the geological risks. What would camp become? "Closed." "Over." "Empty." "Gone." I thought of my conversation with Paulette, a beloved year-round staff person there. We both simply could not picture that once noisy, boisterous waterfront quiet. Still. "You give and take away." I thought about how I had always dreamed I would send my own children there one day. "Closed." "Over." "Empty." "Gone." I arrived home absolutely emotionally wrecked. While it was good to have a chance to say a proper 'goodbye,' it was among the saddest days of my life.

I cried every day after that for at least two weeks, and then sporadically for a few months after that. It honestly felt like a death. It's the hardest thing to describe, but that place, those people... the impact that camp had on my life... I couldn't believe it was over.

Time, as it does, eventually took the intensity of emotion away, but Kawkawa was still on my mind a lot. I began a website where people could write in with their memories, tell stories of their time there, acknowledge people who had made an impact on their lives, and write about the ways their life was impacted by their time at camp. It was my way of keeping camp alive, of doing something to deal with what felt like the loss of an incredibly significant part of my childhood and my spiritual development. Slowly, over the period of about a year, I came to grips with the fact that Camp Kawkawa - my haven, my "God place," my was gone for good.

I remember telling God that day that he had sure better have a bigger plan. Cause this plan sucked...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hillary: A whole new brand of crazy

That it. I've officially snapped. Lost it. Flipped my lid. Cracked. Gone cookoo.

I went to Superstore tonight and blew my entire month's budget on groceries (it's so CHEAP here! OOH, I need that! Wow, I can stock up on this!). I have had two days of parent teacher conferences on top of being out nearly every (or is it every?) night over the last 8 or 9 days. I've been getting waaaay to little sleep. And tonight I went crazy.

I love yogurt. L-O-V-E. It's one of God's gifts to mankind, and I have been known to eat an entire container in one sitting. And it was cheap at Superstore. So I bought a lot. Six tubs, to be exact. And two tubs of cottage cheese. Have I mentioned that I live by myself? Seriously, if ever I become lactose intolerant I will cry forever.

I got home, and I was really tired and my feet hurt and I was cold (it's been freezing here the last few days, and I was in a skirt, so yeah, chilly), so I whipped off my boots and socks and put on my cozy PJ pants and pink fuzzy slippers. But I kept my coat on, cause well, it was warm.

Then I called my friend Jason. He's really quite nice, despite what that picture might tell you. We were chatting, I was putting away my groceries, and talking about how I MIGHT have overdone it in the dairy department - which, coincidentally, I'm pretty sure doesn't have it's very own herd of cows in the back, so why did it smell like a farm? No, really. It reeked of cow a$$. Grody.

Anyhoo, I was proclaiming my love for yogurt when I knocked one of the containers off the counter and it landed SPLAT on the floor. Hardly any spilled (hooray!) but the container split away from the rim. So clearly it had to be eaten down so no yogurt would ooze out while it was in the fridge. So in between sentences I gulped down about 3/4 of the container. Hey, I was hungry! OK, not really, I have an addiction. I need help. I was making fun of myself and my affinity for fruit flavoured milky goodness to Jason when I decided that I really should remove myself from the source of dairy temptation.

Of course, woofing down mass quantities of yogurt in record speed is not so good for the stomach, and all of a sudden I felt really really full. Which struck me as rather funny. So I laughed. "Oooh, I'm so full! I ate too much yogurt! My poor tummy!"

Well, apparently this registered in my over-tired burned out brain as HIH-LAAAAWIOUS and I totally cracked up. A lot.

And then I started laughing because I was laughing. And then I started laughing harder. And then harder. And then harder.


I wheezed to Jason through my hysterics. And then my wheezing was funny, so I laughed some more. Then my ribs started to hurt cause I was laughing so hard, so I laughed some more (trying to ignore the nervous laughter from the other end of the phone...which also made me laugh some more.)

There was no stopping me. For at LEAST five minutes I was rolling around on my bed laughing at my laughter, tears STREAMING down my face (apparently my new mascara is not waterproof, as evidenced from the tracks of brown-black down my cheeks), wheezing a few sentences into the phone.

I finally regained enough composure to actually walk somewhere and do something other than laugh my guts out and I clicked through a link on a blog post to this. Which made me nearly blow Jason's ear out as the laughing fit started all over again. (Why did I think a good thing to do while trying to escape a lughing fit while on the phone would be to check a blog? Who knows. It's not like I was thinking clearly!)

I finally calmed down and went to take a look at myself. Eyes red and puffy from laugh-crying so hard, mascara streaks down my face, small bit of yogurt on my upper lip (apparently I missed?). Puffy winter coat, baby blue flannel PJ pants covered in sheep, and pink fuzzy slippers. Hiccuping insanely from the marathon laughing fit.

Nooooo, THAT'S not the picture of a lunatic at ALL.

Heh. heh. *eye twitches* Heh.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dancy Dance

I guess times are tough for Elijah Wood after the Lord Of The Rings trilogy ended...

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Oh how I love a productive Saturday!

A big goal over the Christmas holidays was "Operation Get Rid Of Lots Of Stuff." Like, furniture, and recycling, and rubbermaid storage bins in my room, and old computer junk, and stuff like that. So I got all in a tizzy and hauled all the stuff that was previously being stored in my room and other nooks and crannies out into a big ol' giant pile in my living room, to be driven off with glee to the various places it all needed to go.

And then my car died, effectively halting my ability to haul stuff around.

So there it all sat in my living room. For nearly three weeks. That is, until last night when I had a complete and total dance geek party party of awesomeness in which I invited a bunch of dance friends over and we mocked watched the DVDs from Sea To Sky, the dance convention we all went to back in October. (I say mocked because they are the most poorly made DVDs I have ever seen. No scene selection, only snippets of the dances, bad sound, weird angles that don't allow you to see, I dunno, the DANCERS. Gah. Don't even get me started. Ok, so I started already. Whatever! They're better than nothing, I guess, and were still a good excuse for a shindig.) Click on the picture to see the insanity in my living room. See that white triangle in the bottom left corner? That's a wee bit of the spare single bed that was propped up against my couch and didn't quite make it in the photo. GAH!

Nothin' like having people over to motivate you to get cleaned up. Unfortunately, having only gotten my car back Thursday night, I didn't have time to take any of the pile of junk in my living room anywhere, so it all got dumped back in my bedroom. Sigh.

BUT! Today! Oh sweet day of productivity! I got rid of SO MUCH STUFF and got SO much done, and even did some building and some electrical work. Ok, so my electrical work consisted of plugging in my computer monitor, but hey, it sounded good for a minute there, didn't it?

Today I...

- slept in. Very important, and newsworthy because IT NEVER HAPPENS.
- piled all my crap-to-be-gotten-rid-of on the kitchen floor and outside the door to my suite.
- talked to Rachelle, my very-bestest-friend-in-the-whole-wide-world (yes, she always needs to be referred to as that. It's the law.) and soon-to-be-mommy-of-THREE-boys, for about an hour during said piling of crap-to-be-gotten-rid-of. Enough hyphens for you? No? I-didn't-think-so.
- unsuccessfully tried to stave off cramps-of-death with gigantesque dose of Happy Pills.
- dropped off dead bulky computer monitor and dead DVD player at the electronics recycling depot. That in itself was great cause they have been sitting in my room for at LEAST a year and a half.
- went to Purolator to pick up my new monitor and send off the smells-like-burning, good-thing-it's-still-under-warranty monitor back to maker-of-stupid-monitor company.
- went to Future Shop to return the loaner monitor and happily got a chunk of change put pack onto my oh-so-overused credit card.
- balked at my body, because just as I thought I was going to keel over and die from previously aforementioned cramps-of-death, the clouds parted, the sun shone down (no, really!) and my body flipped the ok-you-were-writhing-in-agony-but-now-you're-completely-fine switch and all was right with the world.
- celebrated with a grande non-fat no-whip peppermint mocha from Starbucks.
- drove to the other end of the city to get my car Air-Cared so I could renew my insurance, which expired six days ago. Yes, I had temporary insurance. The car passed. Woohoo! (Darn well better have for all the work that was just done on it!)
- went to renew insurance.
- came back to dead car. AURGH!!! Apparently 10 minutes of forgetting to turn my lights off was enough to drain the battery.
- flagged numerous random people down in the Superstore parking lot asking if they had jumper cables. More than one person went to open their window and then changed their mind, forcing me to scream though the glass. Cause apparently I looked like some crazywoman who was going to dive through a cracked open window into their car and EAT THEM ALIVE.
- finally found Kindly Dude to jump my car, blocked someone from the recently-vacated parking spot beside me so Kindly Dude could park there and resuscitate my car, and thanked him profusely. Mental note. Put jumper cables that are hanging in storage room BACK into car. Right-o.
- drove to Ikea to buy a dresser (goodbye chunk of change from the monitor) - part three of my holy-cow-I-can't-believe-I-haven't-blogged-about-this new bedroom set-in-the-making. Suffice it to say for now that I am in love. With furniture. I need help.
- came home and nearly broke my back hauling massive box of wood out of my car and into my room.
- assembled said dresser-of-awesomeness.
- plugged in my replacement monitor. (See?! Electrical work! And last Saturday I strung 75 feet of coaxial cable all through my house so I could have TV in my room! IN MY ROOM! For the very first time in my life. Gloriousness, I tell you, gloriousness!)
- wrote a long detailed blog post about a mundane day of errands.
- am going to have a glass of wine (or two or five) while I unearth my bed from all the junk I had to pile on top of it in order to build the dresser.
- have decided by default to go to neither the dance nor the Recycle-Your-Not-So-Great-Christmas-Present party, opting instead for PJ pants and new furniture.

Rah rah for Saturday night!

Also? Yes, I realize what a girly-girl post this is. And I love it! tee hee hee!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Whenever I plan events/parties/dinners or whatever, I like to use Evite for the invitations. It sends a message to people's inboxes and then they click through for all the details and to RSVP. It's handy, I've used it for a while, and I enjoy it. One of the features is that guests RSVP's are posted on a message board/wall thing-a-ma-bob and they can choose "yes," no," or "maybe" and leave a message for you should they so choose.

My birthday is coming up, so I sent out the evite earlier this week, and a number of people have replied. It seems it's a popular weekend, so there are a number of people who can't make it. Ok, fine. What gets me are the reasons. No word of a lie, here are the resaons they can't make it:

* Awesome initiative. I'd help out but I will be in South America. Have fun!
* I am so sorry but I am in Ontario for the first two weeks of Feb!
* Hillary, I'd love to come, but will be in Africa. Hope you have a fantastic day!
* Hi, unfortunately I'll be in Mexico, dancing on a cruise boat. Want to do it there? :) Have fun!
* Sorry, we'll be at Big White [a ski resort about a 4 hour drive from here] skiing.

Ok, forget my birthday, lemmie go with one of THEM! Sheesharoonies!


Aurgh. It's 4:49am, and I can't sleep. I've just had a terrible crazy dream that I get my car back today (this is true - yay!) and all of a sudden it's doing all kinds of awful car things - smoking and steaming and buzzing and clanging and all the lights on the dashboard come on at once. They're not wild fantastical things that a could never really do, it's just getting it back from the mechanic and everything goes wrong... again. You know you've been having car issues when you're woken up by bad car dreams. Bah.

I have to be out the door in precicely two hours. But I'm wide awake (and had been long before I started writing here!) I need sleeeeeep (she types while yawning). Oh today is not gonna be a good day. Hillary McSleeps-a-lot. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I'll be in a workshop all day. Not having to be "on" all day means I won't snap at the kids from being over tired... but it also means I won't have the kids to keep me awake. Which could result in embarassment. Oh joy. OK, back to sleep. Or to tossing.

Oh sweet sleep why do you elude me when I need you most?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Would you rather... *updated*

As I walked into my classroom this morning, Lenny* - one of my grade two students - and his friend Tyra were playing a game of "Would you rather..." As I fumbled for my keys, this is what I heard.

L: Would you rather... get married and after you are in the bed, pee your pants... or.... eat five rattlesnakes and throw up?

Well now, what would YOU choose?
Oh man. These kids crack me up!

* Update: ok, you HAVE to read the comments. They're hilarious! *


I start therapy today! Woohoo! (We always knew she was crazy!)

No, no, not THAT kind of therapy. VOICE therapy! Ever since teaching music, I've had issues with my voice. I lose it constantly, and even after a day of teaching, it is often hoarse.

I went to the Voice Clinic in December and had a consultation with a speech-language pathologist and will have another appointment in February with an ear-nose-throat specialist, both who have been doing a study on occupational voice use. The SLP told me that women (check!) who use their voices for their jobs (check!), particularly in large rooms (check!) with high celieings (check!), lots of concrete and windows (check! check!), and relatively noisy environments (check!) are much more susceptible to having voice trouble. This is also compounded when the person is talkative (triple check!), outgoing (check!) and has a busy, active life (check!) that might have them out at restaurants, dances, or in the outdoors freuently (check! check! check!).

Soooo basically, my lifestyle and occupation means that my voice doesn't have a chance. Good times.

And also, she thinks I probably have slightly higher than normal acid reflux when I sleep, compounding my voice and throat issues (which, she tells me, is probably why I cough all. the. time. or need to clear my throat so much even when I'm not sick! Hallelujah! An explanation!). She gave me a list of foods to avoid (um, chocolate, nuts, spicy foods... yeah right!) and told me to elevate the head of my bed 4 to 6 inches so I'm sleeping on an incline. Guess silk sheets are out oft he question, hey? I'd slip right out the end of my bed!

The good news is that the SLP is writing up a report that recommends I have an FM system in my classroom (hooray!). I get to have a little Brittny Spears mic on when I teach and it gets amplified through the entire classroom. Everyone I've ever talked to who has had one of these things says it saves their voice incredibly AND really imporves the behaviour of the students. I figure it's cause there are four speakers mounted around the classroom, and it jsut makes it seem like I'm EVERYWHERE! Muah ha ha!!!

But also, the SLP runs a seven-week, fourteen hour group therapy session for occupational voice users. I'll get to learn all about how my voice works and how to take proper care of it. It's covered by medical, so I'm there! Hip hip hooray, finally an end to my voice woes!

But giving up chocolate? It ain't gonna happen. Ha!
* ok, I know therapy is a GOOD thing and has done a world of good for many, many people. Please don't be offended by my 'crazy' joke, I'm just trying to poke fun at myself!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Car Talk

But not of the ranting kind...

From Wikipedia...

If the gasket fails, a variety of problems can occur, from compression loss (leading to power reduction, or a rough engine [uh, yeah! chug-a-lug, baby! But hey, at least I saved some cash on going for a massage!]), to exhaust gases being forced into the cooling system, leading to the engine overheating [the needle up past the red "OK, I'm really really hot and might blow up at any minute" zone is a BAD thing, right?] and increased engine wear due to the motor oil being mixed with antifreeze. Coolant can leak into the cylinders, causing the exhaust to issue steam [great heaping billows of white noxious steam, yeah] and the catalytic converter to be damaged. If a very large amount of coolant does this, hydrolock can occur, causing extensive engine damage. Sometimes, all that may happen when a head gasket is blown is excessive steam erupting from the tailpipe [excessive is an understatement, baby!] and the engine may act and drive like normal... [though apparently with the damage to my head gasket, my mechanic is stupefied that the thing could even run.]

Driving with a blown head gasket (if possible) can cause additional extensive damage [Here's hoping the rest of the engine isn't shot, now! Heh... um? Pretty please?] due to overheating or loss of lubrication.

So. July. The water pump blew, causing the car to overheat. Water pump fixed.

November. There was a problem with the fan, which blew the new water pump, causing the car to overheat. Or something. Fan fixed. Water pump fixed.

First week of January. Computer that regulates the fan was screwy, causing the fan to work inconsistently, causing the water pump to break, causing the engine to overheat. Computer fixed. Fan fixed. Water pump fixed.

Second week of January. All this overheating caused the head head gasket to blow (actually it blew a while back), causing the water pump to blow, the timing belt to go wonky, and a host of other things. Head gasket fixed. Timing belt fixed. Host of other things fixed. Water pump fixed.

Found out that every head gasket ever made for this model of car/engine has blown. They have since redesigned it, but lucky me, I still get to pay for it. The parts are expensive, but the three days of labour my mechanic has put into it? All he's charging me is $100. This fix is costing me HALF what it would cost me normally because my mechanic is my hero! How he makes his money, I'll never know.

Actually, I do.

He'll probably charge some other poor shmuck an arm and a leg next time HE goes in. A poor shmuck like... maybe my dad.

Um, neener neener?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Pitching tents... or something like that

Oh this SO cracked me up today! Ho-lee hilarious, batman! Better some humour after my big sob story below. Watch it! Right now!

And supposedly this is what the guy sent around in an email afterwards:
"All I know to say is..'Thank God for His GRACE!!!' After talking with God about this whole thing, He let me know that when it happened... all of heaven fell to their side, they started beating the ground, with tears streaming down their face, and Lot was running around pinching himself, and all the heavenly hosts roared with laughter...just like you did!!!!"

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Return of the Beastmobile? AUGRH!!!

Ladies and gents, life is on hold. Strict, strict budget for things like entertainment and eating out. No travel. Maybe getting rid of the cell phone. And you KNOW things are bad when there will be no dancing lessons, either. Commence crying now.

My car has fallen under the curse. The evil, evil curse of the Beastmoblie. Those of you who have been reading this blog for over two years have read the posts about my old car. There were scores of them. This post is the best introduction, and one of my finer song re-works. When the Beastmobile (aka a 1989 Olds Cutlas) finally bit it in November of 2005 (thanks to a dear sir who felt that he didn't really feel like stopping for a red light), it was joyfully replaced by a beauteous issue-free 1994 Civic with a piddly 94,114 km on it. 59,480 miles, for you Americans out there. :) And it's been glorious. Only the routine oil changes and a scheduled timing belt replacement at about 100,000 km.

Until now.

Last winter my trunk began leaking. So much so that when I braked, you could hear it sloshing around. Off I went to my parent's house so that we could drain it and run a space heater in it to dry it out while it sat dry and toasty in the carport (I only have street parking). It was a few months till I could get it into the body shop to have the leak fixed, but eventually I did, and voila! No more leak!

This summer, though, my car began to overheat, so I took it in. It needed a water pump. Ok, fine, that's expected. I got that fixed and a few other odds and ends and forked over around six hundred and fifty bucks. Oof. Oh well, such is the cost of owning a car.

Of course, having just replaced the water heater in July, one would not expect that the cooling system - including a problematic fan that wasn't an issue last time - would have to be done AGAIN in November. Such was the case, however, when I began to overheat on a long drive out to the valley (which reminds me, I really need to write a few posts...). My mechanic - God bless him - charged me no labour. Still it was five hundred and twenty bucks for parts.

As summer turned to fall and fall faded into winter, the weather got wetter. So did my trunk. Just a bit at first, but come the full-fledged rainy season, it was back to a sloshing pool of rain water in the back of my trunk. Goodie goodie gum drops. Now, having the folding seats that I do, there's a little flap of fabric that rests in the trunk. All the better to soak up the water and bring it into the seats, my dear. This I discovered as I picked friends up for Christmas dinner and they arrived at my parents house with wet a$$es. Classy. All the subsequent driving around I did over the holiday involved folded up towels in the back seat for people to sit on. Double classy.

Over the last week of the holiday, I noticed that my car would chug a little bit when it was idling, and sometimes there was quite a bit of really nasty smeling white exhaust. But only sometimes. Then, last Friday, it chugged so much it felt like I was sitting in a massage chair and as I dropped off my friend Becca, it filled the neighbourhood with noxious smelling white smoky exhaust. I only has about 30 blocks to home, so I tried to make it. The temperature guage was up higher than the red and I was billowing massive clouds of smoke as I went. When steam began to billow out from under the hood, however, I pulled 'er over post haste and walked the remaining fourteen blocks to my house. Of course, not before opening the hood to find that the small amount of water in the overflow resevoir was boiling. So let's recap, shall wee? I had water in my trunk and no water in my engine. You'd think they'd learn to share or something. Geez.

I waited till the next morning and drove it straight to the mechanic to be parked there over the weekend. No chance I was gonna drive around with it ready to blow at any second. Of course, the drive there was without incident. Anyway, there it sat, to be looked at on Monday. Two guy friends of mine both told me - independently of each other - that from what I was describing, it sounded like a blown head gasket. Now I don't know much, but I know that THAT is expensive. Like really a lot. Oh happy fun times of joyousness.

I called to check in with the mechanic after school on Monday (yesterday) and he told me that one of the things that had puzzled him last time was still acting up - the computer that controlled the fan that helped to cool the engine. So he changed that. I asked about the head gasket, and he told me that while all the symptoms pointed to exactly that, he could find no evidence of a blown gasket. No mixed fluid anywhere, nothing on the spark plugs, and he drove it all over the place all day long and never once did it chug or smoke for him. He did everything he could and couldn't make it do what it was doing for me. Typical. He got the other mechanic at the shop to look at it, too, and he couldn't find anything either. He told me that when gaskets blow, they blow, and it's not intermittent, so he was very confused. Head gaskets are a very common fix, but he had never seen this problem before in all his years of working on cars. Goooood. That makes me feel SO much better. Yerg. Ah, but of course! We forgot that we're talking about one of MY cars.

He told me that he really couldn't bring himself to fix something he wasn't convinced was broken, so we'd leave it at the computer and the other tweaks he'd done and see how it fared. He was cautiously optomistic that this was the final fix. So off I went tonight after work to pick it up. And to unload another five hundred and twenty bucks. What are we at now, about $1700 since July? No problemo, I'll just go pick it off the money tree in the back yard... Oh right. I DON'T HAVE ONE.

While I was at the shop, I asked, "Well, just in case this isn't the final fix, how much would a blown head gasket actually cost me?" He told me that under normal circumstances it would be a couple of thousand dollars (CHOKE! COUGH! SPUTTER!), but that he'd have pity on me, and I shouln't worry, it would be painless. But the car is probably fixed now. So home I went with my probably fixed car.

Of course I watched the temperature guage and exhaust like a hawk all the way home. Temperature? Fine. Exhaust? Normal. Chugging? Non-existent. Woohoo!

That is, until about the last 8 or 10 blocks. Was that a cloud of white smoke I saw, or am I just paranoid? And I'm starting to feel that slight chug... or is my mind playing tricks on me? I pulled up to my parking spot and let it idle for a minute.


And there is was. Billowing cloud, chug-a-lugging engine, crying Hillary.

Let's see how much my mechanic's pity is gonna cost me THIS time. Oh yeah, and that trunk leak is still not fixed, either. It's not like THAT can be left alone forever, either. Good thing I just got my Christmas mastercard bill and bought myself a bedroom suite, too. Anyone got some excess wealth they'd like to share?

Frickity frackity flappity FLIP!!!

Pardon me while I go cry now.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


H: [after making some strange face or sound or both] Oh Brad, why am I so weird?
B: I stopped asking that a long time ago.
H: Oh come on, you've met my dad, you're supposed to know the answer to this.
B: Oh right! It's genetic! ... I get my bad sense of humour from my dad.
H: What?!? You've got a fantastic sense of humour!
B: Yeah! I don't know where I got the good part from!

New Year's Prayers

Three years ago I went to a Christian retreat center for New Years Day and I came across these two prayers. I don't know who wrote them or where they came from, but they particularly struck me, so I wrote them down and come back to them every year. As I go and spend some time on them today, I thought I would share them.


Father, I surrender the past year and give it up to you. I give you my failures, my regrets, and my disappointments, for I have no more use for them. Make me now a new person, forgetting what lies behind and pressing on toward that which lies ahead of me. I give you all my hopes and dreams about the future. Purify them by your spirit so that my will shall truly reflect your will for me. As I stand on the threshold of a new year, encourage me by my successes, challenge me by the power of your word, and guide me by your spirit.


You keep us waiting. You, the God of all time,
want us to wait for the right time in which to discover
who we are, where we must go, and what we must do.
Thank you for the waiting time.

You keep us looking. You, the God of all space,
want us to look in the right and wrong places for signs of hope,
for people who are hopeless, for visions of a better world
which will appear among the disappointments of the world we know.
Thank you for the looking time.

You keep us loving. You, the God whose name is love,
want us to be like you - to love the loveless and the unlovely
and the unlovable; to love without jealousy or design or threat,
and most difficult of all, to love ourselves.
Thank you for the loving time.

And in all this you keep us,
through hard questions with no easy answers,
through failing where we hoped to succeed,
and making an impact where we thought we were useless,
through the patience and the dreams and the love of others
and through Christ and his spirit you keeps us.
Thank you for the keeping time
and for now, and for ever.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008