Sunday, October 31, 2004

Out dancing

Last night the kids, Peter and I went to a contra dance in Montpelier. They have them every 1st, 3rd, and 5th Saturdays of the month. I haven't been in years. Long time no dance. It felt great to do it again!

I was still a bit rusty with the dance moves. I had forgotten how to do a lot of them, and I'm not that great at remembering the sequence they're supposed to go in for each one. I had a blast anyway!

There's this one guy there that I've danced with before. He's really nice, always smiling, and looks a lot like our favorite hiker Radar. I danced with him a couple of times tonight. He had to teach me how to waltz again. He showed me how much easier it was to follow him if I put my hand on his chest near the shoulder joint. You can then feel the slightest change of direction and follow before he starts to move that direction. Try it sometime :-)

We were out until 11:30pm. The kids conked out in the back of the van on the ride home. I was still jazzed up from the excitement and didn't get into bed till late. It's good I got out tonight and danced up a storm - I polished off half a gallon of eggnog over the past couple of days. It's my yearly holiday treat :-)

Friday, October 29, 2004

Office safety

I was searching for that statistic on toilet seat injuries when I ran across this funny article:

Workplace safety


Somebody sent me a letter recently and said that research had been done about IQ levels and being understood. Evidently, if your IQ is 30 points higher than the person you're talking to, neither one can understand/comprehend the other. That statistic sure is evident in the comments section over on Rob's blog. Some people just take the information in front of them way out of context and derive totally opposite views than what the information really states.

Did you know that the average IQ in the U.S. is 100? Pretty scary!

It seems like a lot of people in this country don't know how to reason, or think, or form opinions on their own without somebody else telling them what to think.

I'm sick and disgusted of all the airtime the 9/11 incident has been getting. About 3,000 people were killed. Whoopie! More than 10 times that amount die each year in this country from the flu. See the CDC website for more info. Why don't we declare a war on germs and classify them as enemy combatants?

Did you know that over 1,000 people visit the emergency room each year for toilet seat related accidents? Priorities people, priorities!

My Butt

Boy, I was really incoherant when I wrote that last entry! Chalk it up to not enough sleep. When I re-read it this morning I realized it needed more detail.

Yup, I have stitches. They're underneath the skin.I was supposed to keep on the three butterfly bandages that were holding the outside skin together, but I ripped them off 4 hours after surgery. They hurt. Everything feels fine now :-) Though I suppose the doc won't be pleased ... they were supposed to be left on for a week.

I'm supposed to take it easy for the next couple of days. I think I'm going to catch up on my reading. If I go outside, I'll be tempted to work on my van again ...

Speaking of my van, I picked it up from the garage last night. They installed my brake lines and looked it over for inspection. It needed a couple of things done before they could inspect it, so I made an appointment to have them done. It looks to be November 9th before I can legally drive it again. (Sigh)

This garage was really nice and quick. They charged me $55.50 for the brake line work, which I consider fantastic! Both my uncle Eric and and I had tried to get the lines off previously, but couldn't budge them. I tried for several hours. It's such a relief to have them done now! The braking capabilities definately improved. My right front brakes had been locking up if I stomped on them too hard, now they work properly.

They now need to replace the front wheel bearings, tighten up the exhaust to the manifold, and patch a couple of small holes they found in the body. Then I'm all set! Woohooo!

I need to figure out what to do this winter. I need to get a job and pay off my debts ... and buy some new toys. I really need a circular saw, jigsaw, and a drill. Especially if I go down to Florida this winter to work as a carpenter!

I'm fairly sure that's what I'm going to do - Florida needs carpenters, I need money. Plus it'll be nice to hang out in gorgeous weather all winter. (Side note...while looking at my butt picture, I realized just how low my tanline really was. Jeez! I didn't know my pants hung that low)

I'm off to read some good books. I'm trying not to go out to the driveway, scooch under my van, and fix that exhaust. That's how I got this splinter in the first place. :-)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I wish I had the camera in the operating room! I could barely see a thing from my position on the table. It was pretty cool to be totally numb but aware of what was happening.

The doc had to poke around for quite a while to get the metal out. It kept moving around inside, so he had to lengthen the incision from the original plan ... it's about an inch long. Now my official pain in the butt has been removed and now sits on my shelf in a urine specimen jar. :-)

Van cab area - note hula girl on dash

Interior of my van

Monday, October 25, 2004

Enlarging bed and making new doors

Saturday, October 23, 2004

van cedar

My van took another step towards completion today. I installed aromatic cedar planks on the top and sides of the lip where wooden paneling meets fiberglass roof. My handy dandy rope lights are behind the side planking, and the top ones make nice candle or other small object shelves.

The other day I gave the exterior another coat of paint. Today I finally reinstalled the black rubber weatherstriping that encircles the roof cap attachment point.

Recently some yahoo sent me a letter saying how awfully I was living my life, that my van was a waste of money and I should have bought a newer car, etc etc. I get the idea that the letter writer totally missed the point of my life.

I see my van as a great investment. With it, I'm learning valuable mechanical skills and getting a huge self-esteem boost every time I figure out how something new on it. I now have a home on wheels and a snazzy work vehicle. My van isn't as likely to get stolen as some other vehicles out there, and I can easily spot it in a parking lot. My van has also been invaluable in terms of therapy.

I get great enjoyment out of my van and the rest of my life. Rather than save up all of my money and time for two weeks of vacation a year, I enjoy the money and time now. I could get run over by a bus tomorrow...But more likely, I could get an auto-immune disease like my mom. It doesn't make sense to save up money and fun for a time that may never come. It's nice to have money in the bank, but I'd rather use that money on things I can enjoy cool carpentry tools for work, and outdoor gear for play.

There is a strong incidence of auto-immune diseases within my family. There's a chance I could get something like Lupus or Myasthenia Gravis later in life. If I do get something like that, I would like to have at least lived a little before hand.

If you don't like the way I live my life, then bite me. :-) And only send letters that overflow with genuine flattery and adoration.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Mechanical bill

I'm in a better mood now :-)

I still haven't found the mechanic, but I figure he'll finally find me/call me back if he wants to be paid. I'm going to give him a bill for his 'services'.

He originally wanted $77.24. $45 for the part, $30 for labor, plus tax. Well, I've done some calling around. Being a mere customer and not dealer, I could only obtain that part from the dealer instead of a parts shop. They would sell it to me for $21-27. Being a dealer, you know they mark it up substantially. The part probably really only costs $8-10.

The bill I'm thinking of sending goes something like this:

Original Bill:
$45 Part
$30 Labor
$2.24 tax

My Bill:
You charge $5 a day for cars not picked up promptly after fixing. You did not begin to fix my car until 7 days after I brought it in for the original appointment. $5 a day times 7 = $35

You did not bother to inspect my car like I asked you to. Nor did you install the two brake lines because in your words, "It would cut into the other work I'm doing elsewhere". My car's inspection grace period expired while it was sitting at your garage. I have been unable to go to work until I get it inspected, and the soonest appointment I could get from a reputable garage was 10 total days/7 working days after you released my vehicle. I earn more than minimum wage as a carpenter. Even at minimum wage, I would have lost $378 thanks to not being able to use my van to get to work.

My uncle graciously fixed the crooked steering column and wiring you screwed up. At the $30 an hour you charge, he should be fairly reimbursed for the 2 hours it took him. $30 x 2 hours = $60

Total Bill:
minus cost of your bill of $77.24

You owe me $395.76

Have a nice day :-)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


I went mechanic hunting today, unsuccessfully. Andy Morse of Morse's Garage was nowhere to be found. According to his mother, he plans to take this whole next week off. She wouldn't tell me where his house was, and the directions I obtained from his cousin were kinda vague. I went to both the Calais and Worcester town clerk offices to see if they knew where he lived. I walked around where his house was supposed to be and bumped into some neighbors of ours, who didn't know he was even living in the neighborhood. I tried a different but almost parallel road and asked a couple of the neighbors down there if they knew of him.

Everywhere I went, I explained why I was looking for Andy. Pretty soon both towns should know what a crappy mechanic he is. Both town clerks like to gossip. :-)

I'm still peeved he'd consider the job done and hand the car back to me with the drive shaft installed crooked and more problems then when it came in. The snot.

I fixed some of the problems today. With the help of my Uncle Eric and his cool electrical probe thingy, we figured out the back left blinker and got it to work. But now the left front side and right rear side blinkers don't work. Lovely.

My bed is lumpy, I'm irritable, my car's inspection has inspired, the idiot mechanic is nowhere to be found, I have no money thanks to being vanless/workless for a week, and my credit is shot thanks to normal living expenses and a present I bought myself yesterday. :-) I can't wait to use's a carbon fiber kayak paddle and a nifty wetsuit that I've been lusting after for YEARS.

While I was at the kayak store getting my goodies, I took one of their kevlar kayaks out on their pond for a little test drive. What a gorgeous boat! It's so swift and curvaceous. Very light too...only 46 pounds! It's on sale - only $2,400. Such a steal! I need a roof rack for my van so I can go somewhere. It's either that or take up whitewater kayaking...then I could fit the boat inside the van. :-)

Monday, October 18, 2004

Don't go to Morses Garage

The guy I took my van to is an idiot.

I made an appointment with him to have my van's left flasher fixed, new brake lines put in, and have it inspected. I made the appointment 5 days ahead of time. I bought the brake lines and put them on the passenger seat so he could get to and use them easily. Told him to use them. Dropped my van off on Monday. When I dropped it off, I asked him to do one more thing ... fix the flashers that had become permanently stuck on the drive over. Was told the work should take a day, no problem.

He kept reneging on his promise of when it would be ready. First it was the next day. Then the end of Wednesday. Then Thursday. Then, he told me he might work on it on Sunday, but it probably wouldn't be ready till Monday. In the meantime, my van sat at his shop.

My van sat there for a week. The grace period for having my van inspected after registering it expired while it was there. I'm no longer legally allowed to drive it, unless it's to an inspection appointment.

I went to pick it up tonight. It's a good thing I didn't pay him yet ... he totally screwed it up. When he put my steering column back on, he did it wrong. The gear shift indicator no longer indicates the right gear. The gear shift lever no longer works smoothly or correctly...I have to shove it. The blinker knob won't shift smoothly either, and he screwed up the wiring. Now when I have my high beams on, the brightness level fluctuates depending on how much I'm stepping on the gas.


I'm going back tomorrow morning and will politely refuse to leave until he fixes the problems he caused. I would also like to walk away with an inspection sticker so I can go back to work.

I forgot to mention that he didn't install my brake lines or fix my left blinker like he had originally promised to do. His excuse for why he didn't do my brake lines? He said they looked fine already. This is after repeatedly assuring me that the brake lines would be no problem to do. He also said that doing them would cut into his other repair jobs.

Well excuse me dingbat, but why did I make an appointment with you 5 days ahead of the fact? I thought making an appointment meant you would be put into the work schedule.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Fun with Math

Like I said, I've always hated math with a passion. Though I love physics, theories, and explanations on how and why the universe ticks...As long as it's not too heavy on the numbers. Numbers are just so dry and technical. Give me something juicy and exuberant!

I don't know why I don't like math. I think I'm just allergic to things people want to make me do. For instance, The most miles I've hiked in a day is 38. I enjoyed it imensely. But if somebody told me I had to hike 38 in a day...I think I'd develop a sudden case of leg cramps and insist I would die if I didn't get some immediate bed rest.

A couple of weeks ago a switch flipped in my brain. I suddenly had the urge to do some math. I've been slowly working on it bit by bit every night and find myself having a fun time. I've been studying out of a couple of great books I highly recomend. One is called Math To Build On. It's math geared towards people in the building trades. Lots of nice illustrations, easy to read, and it starts off really elementary. It progresses fast, but it's easy to follow thanks to the easy to understand text. If I only had one math book, I'd want it to be The Tratchenburg Speed System. It's amazing how simple math becomes once you understand this different way of mathematics.


Saturday, October 16, 2004

Johnson State College

Every week my 7 year-old cousin Charlotte asks if I have a boyfriend yet. When I tell her no, she insists I need to go out and get one. She suggests finding one by going to college.

Today I went to the open house at Johnson State... Not to look for a boyfriend, but to check out their outdoor education program. I've been interested in them for several years now and finally decided to visit campus. Pretty interesting place! They seem to have a lot of things going on there. The professors were all really nice and talkative, the library had a lot of comfy chairs and good views, and the food actually tasted decent.

College gets more appealing the older I get. I want to be surrounded by enthusiastic people who are into the same things I am. I'm not interested so much in the learning as the smushing myself into a tiny dormroom with a complete stranger and being enveloped by the hyper social scene.

I'm seriously considering taking the SATs and starting the whole college application process. It would be a different experience...

Friday, October 15, 2004

What things suck


On Monday I brought my beloved van to the mechanic for its appointment to have the wiring fixed and brake lines put in. It's now Friday and I've learned the mechanic just started working on it today. Previously he had promised it would be ready by Thursday. Now he says it won't be ready Monday, and he won't be able to fix the wiring. Time to start charging him.

In the meantime, I'm paying insurance for the privelage of having it sit in his lot. He's had it so long that the grace period for me being able to drive it without being inspected has run out. I can't get it inspected without the lights working, which he can't fix because he doesn't know how.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

New Bumper Stickers!

Some new stickers that I nought over the internet arrived today. Yay! They say:

Eschew Obfuscation
If going to church makes you a Christian, does going to the garage make you a car?
I saw Elvis making crop circles
Support your local revolution
I give evolution two opposable thumbs up!
I have an ulterior motive for my hidden adgenda
Bipartisanship I'll hug your elephant if you kiss my ass
Congress gave huge tax breaks to the rich and all I got was this lousy bumper sticker
Invest in America - Buy a congressman
Where are we going? And why am I in this handbasket?
Actions speak louder than bumperstickers
Please forgive me, I was raised by wolves
and a sticker with the Christian fish emblem that says inside it: & Chips

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Events in the coming week will bring the beginning of the end of an influence you love to hate. They will also usher in a turning point for your relationship with a person you should treat better than you do. And that's just a fraction of the many adventures headed your way, Sagittarius. Finales and climaxes will be in the works everywhere you turn, and you will get one last chance to fix a long-standing mess before it explodes. Is that dramatic enough for you? No? You want even more? OK, then, how's this: You may finally realize what you want to be when you grow up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Something Different

I want to do something different this year. A new experience. An activity to stretch my comfort zones and expand my mind. I feel like I've been doing variations of the same thing for the past few years. Hiking, trailwork and carpentry are all well and good, but I need to try something else!

I have an urge to go someplace, reinvent myself, and try new things. I have no idea WHAT. Vermont is getting claustrophobic. Maybe I'll emigrate to Canada and play with the mounties.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Bye bye

Since I'm between jobs and it's nice out, I'm running away for awhile. Going hiking!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Why Heather needs a life

Last night I was watching a couple episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway? and laughing my head off. Mom remarked from the other room that she misses me laughing that way...throaty and uninhibited, like I used to do all the time as a baby.

I miss it too. I wish I could be more uninhibited when it comes to my personality in public. I'm really quite a shy person when other people are present.

Like the other day at work. I dropped in at the barn to see what Sam and Eric were working on. Sam had finished pounding down the texture of the granite from rocky peaks to a surface that was more like the prairies of the midwest, and had started polishing it. He invited me to run my hand over the silky areas. I started running my fingertips over the buttery soft granite but became instantly shy. Sam was watching me.

If it were just me there....I would have run both hands over the entire block, marveling at the roughness of the raw granite crystals juxtaposed against the newly satin surfaces. I wouldn't have given a whit about my actions ... I just would have done them. And enjoyed it without reservation.

God versus Bush

More bush bashing, this time in the form of a funny jpg illustrating God's will through hurricanes.

Monday, October 04, 2004


I stumbled upon this article. In some town whose name I didn't catch, the daily newspaper publishes it every start of the school year.

"Summer died last night. Never mind the calendar date, and never mind what the meteorologists say about the autumn equinox. Summer went quietly, and its trappings with it.

While children slept, frayed cut-off denim shorts disappeared from bedposts to be replaced by stiff new jeans or slacks.

And lined up on the floor, shoes; shoes to imprison feet grown tough through a barefoot summer.

It all went so quickly; the bright green, blue and golden days, the soft windless nights punctuated by the gossip of tree toads and crickets. Now it is ended. Wind, sun and rain no longer matter. Now their days are ordered by unnatural things: buzzers, bells and disembodied voices coming from the walls.

What shall we do today?
You'll do what you're told, that's what. Thou shalt not run unless I tell you to run. But I ran all summer when I wanted to run.

Thou shalt not talk unless I tell you to talk. But in the summer when I had something to say, I said it.

Thou shalt not laugh unless you see that I am amused.

So the schools reclaim the children, taking them away from non-productive pursuits to Prepare Them For Life. And being children, they adjust.

Besides, it's not all unpleasant. There are old acquaintances to be renewed, summer experiences to be shared, and in the sharing a certain reliving of those precious hours. There are things to be learned, skills to be discovered and enhanced. Knowledge to be accumulated and stored until test time when it can be summoned up, set down and then forgotten to make room for more dispensable knowledge. And that is all for a purpose.

These are your most precious possessions, the educators say. Give them to us and we will give them back to you better than they were before. Maybe. Maybe not. No guarantee goes with the service. No warranty. No money back if not completely satisfied.

All that's certain is that there will be other summers. But this one's dead.

A yellow bus came in the early morning, its lights cutting through the thick gray fog, and carried summer away."


My van is being persnickety. This weekend I stomped into the house and declared to mom that if my van had a neck, I'd be wringing it. The electrical system is something else!

I dug out all of the wires from behind the walls and tried to make sense of it. I spliced together 4 loose ends and got the back lights to work again. All I needed to do was to get the left blinker to blink. So far I've failed at that task, and am back at square one. None of the back end lights work.
Perhaps I should let a professional deal with it :-)

The auto electrical shop I went to the other day had a sign:

$32 an hour
$36 if you watch
$40 if you help

I need a sign like that for my carpentry business...

Sunday, October 03, 2004


I'm running away from home soon. I already have cabin fever. Where to go? What to do? What bank to rob to finance it all? I just came in from working on my van. It's been a frustrating weekend!

My rearview mirror took a couple of hours to put up. It's a long story, and involves Gorilla Glue, a kit of super-duper mirror epoxy, 3 types of screws, one rivet and gun, a clamp, 3 broken drill bits, a dead battery and exponential amounts of swearing. In addition, one of my fingers sustained some damage when the drill I was holding sliped and started boring into my flesh with the bit going at high speed. I now have two parallel, ragged cuts. The final outcome? One mirror, mounted upside down to the steel van frame.

This is why when I came in, I liked this picture of the cow. Very soothing. I took its picture as it stood in the middle of the Appalachian Trail last year.

Friday, October 01, 2004


Sam posing with the granite

I told Eric he was on the web. He was so engrossed with his work, he hadn't noticed I had taken pictures of him. Sam though...what a ham!

Like the goggles/dust mask/ear muffs with built in radio? I personally like the carhartts...As most people who have read my site know. I need to get another pair myself. Mom made me throw out my 4 year old, well broken in pair. She wasn't going to drive me back home from Arizona unless I did. They were so comfy! And well ventilated. :-)

Pray for my butt

I got home from work today and read mom's blog to see what was new. She's currently asking for people to pray for my butt. Why? Well...

I have a metal object lodged inside my skin, to the left of my tail bone. I must have gotten it while sliding around under my van about a month ago.

My doc says he's always wanted to prescribe a butt x-ray, so he sent me to get one yesterday. My aunt Liz said they'll probably find my head up there. Today the doc called back to say the thing is a metal, needle-like object that's more than an inch long and is in such a tricky place, they need to operate to get it out. My surgery is next week. I hope they let me keep it when they dig it out. It'll make for a great conversation piece.