Recent Happenings

Some general updates from lately.

  • Put my car in the shop on Friday to get some brake work done. I suspected it needed heavy work, and I was right. But unfortunately they have to keep it till Monday to fix it. It will cost me about $1400 for everything, since I’m essentially redoing the entire brake system. I had intended on getting the work done next month anyway with tax returns, but didn’t want to wait that long. Fortunately with an emergency savings it is taken care of no sweat, and the taxes will still be coming in so it all works out.
  • Dad and I had family over last night, from my maternal side. I got to see a relative I haven’t seen in 10 years or more, and his beautiful wife.
  • My knee is feeling loads better. I can walk without pain now, but still with a bit of a limp. Sometimes it gets stiff if I’m sitting too long but I’m being careful with it.
  • We had to replace the boiler at the Grove recently. Cost us a big chunk of money, but fortunately I’ve been working on a $20k fundraiser for the next year so it will replenish that and then some. I look forward to the day when I have no debt but the house and can donate more regularly myself. At least now this one is more efficient and will save us money in the long run.
  • I enjoyed a Table 21 dinner at Volt, home of Top Chef contestant Bryan Voltaggio this past Wednesday as a celebration for my raise. We got 21 tasting courses, which I will write up a detailed blog about hopefully later today.
  • I am working on a list of things I want to accomplish this year, and am looking forward to 2010 being as awesome as the last 4 years have been.
  • The sweetheart has been especially awesome lately. I’m very blessed to have him as a support and encouragement system. He’s constantly giving me perspective and balance.
Read More...

The Life of Crystal the last few weeks

I haven’t really had time (somewhat literally) to make any heart-felt journal post recently, so I’m going to try to sum up what I’ve been up to in a list for easy perusal.

  • Dad’s leg has an infection again. He’s on antibiotics and special wrapping materials right now. I’ve also ordered some items that I’ve done research on that are supposed to help these types of skin ulcers. The next time he has it unwrapped, I’m going to take pictures for my own archiving purposes.
  • Class is going well. It has a very laid back atmosphere, and I find myself asking questions which leads me to believe I’m actually learning. It’s a lot of material to go through though, and I’m studying almost daily to keep up. I’m going to try to switch to spending the afternoons on Sundays studying for the entire week so I have time for other things. I told a a friend of mine that they eventually teach us about tax fraud and the different methods people use to try and commit tax fraud. He says I’m going to be a Tax0r.
  • The last 2 or 3 weeks I’ve been working 15 hour days between my full-time job and freelancing. One evening I was up until 2am (and still had to get up at 6am for work the next day), and am not sure if I went to bed before midnight for an entire week. It’s quite “taxing” on my brain and I’m glad things are settling down some. I can’t complaint too much because the extra money is more than welcome. (this is part of the reason I haven’t been answering emails, fyi)
  • I had the Grove up to my abode last weekend. We were going to have a small bonfire out back and drum, but it rained so we stayed inside and ate food, drank Art’s homemade blueberry wine, and watched old bad movies. I’m grateful for having such wonderful people around me. And I’m also grateful for the two men that helped carry a new storage cabinet upstairs for me. (Thanks Art and Mark :))
  • Upcoming this month, I have to work for my full-time job on a Saturday all day. Several Grove events, some of which are pretty exciting. I’m going camping out near Berkeley Springs again, and am suspecting I’m going to freeze my ass off. And hopefully enjoying the harvest and season.
  • My wisdom teeth healed fine, in fact during my follow-up appointment the doctor said they were healing beautifully. I’ve had absolutely no pain from the surgery, and no pain since the surgery, which leads me to believe the one partially impacted wisdom tooth was indeed causing me the jaw pain. The whole thing only cost like $250, and that came out of my HSA pre-tax money anyway. Very painless.
  • Dad and I had either mormons or Jehovahs Witnesses stop by on Saturday, which I guess makes this officially our home now? I didn’t go outside because I was all henna’d up, but they did stop my dad on his lawnmower (rude?). I saw when they got out of the car that Bastian started jumping all over their nice suits and licking them, so I decided not to worry about bringing him inside. One of them was actually really scared of Bastian, and when they got back into the car I saw him using hand sanitizer :D Oh well, at least I have a pamphlet if I want to learn about God.
  • Holiday shopping has started. I’ve got the sweetheart done, and dad started. I have a few more things to pick up for my dad and maybe my sister and I’ll be finished. Of course the money used for this is money I put away throughout the year so it’s not hurting my finances right now. The sweetheart and I are trying to decide whether to get dad a log splitter or a new lounge chair as his big gift. The log splitter would help a lot since wood is our main source of heat and I’m discovering more and more that dad needs things to be as easy as possible right now with his leg. I’m fine with splitting the wood myself, but dad is not going to wait until the weekend when I can do it. He’s that stubborn. The lounge chair is nice because it lets him relax, the one he has now is falling a part, and it’s his main seating place throughout the day. It’s fairly integral for him. I guess I’ll have to think about this more.
  • Our well situation is finally fixed. We broke down and bought a new pump, since the one we got from our old house didn’t work quite right either. Now everything works fine, we have a new pump, new parts, new tank. Eventually we’ll need a new water heater, but I’m going to try and use this one up first.
  • Speaking of planned expenses, during my trip to Berkeley Springs later this month, I’m going to stop by a wholesale tire place that has been recommended to me for years and pick up 4 brand new tires for the mustang. I’ve already got a quote between $80 and $123 each (includes mounting), depending on which tire I choose. So while I’m out that way I’ll use the money I’ve saved up for this and get some new tires before the winter.
  • I got my car inspected for PA (where they told me I’ll need new tires before winter, which I suspected anyway), so I think I’ve completed pretty much everything to get myself officially transferred to PA now.
  • I seriously need to downsize my rock collection. I started filling up the cabinet that my friend Caryn gave me, and it’s overflowing due to rocks. We are having a goods auction to support the Grove in a few weeks, maybe I will downsize then.
  • Dad and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary in our new house on October 1st. Doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but we’ve adjusted to it. I’m still not fully unpacked :x. Slacker.
  • I had to call Comcast the other day because my “promotional” period ended and they raised my rates. I had to threaten to cancel in order to be rebundled to a better rate, but I’m set in stone for another year at least.
  • Work had its annual party a few weeks back. I don’t think I played as well this year, but I had fun so that’s all that matters.
Read More...

Car Maintenance Musings for my Record

This weekend dad and I did some general maintenance to the mustang. I changed the air filter, which was surprisingly a pain in the ass compared to what I’m used to on the bronco. Instead of unscrewing a lid I’m unclamping rubber hoses, pulling off large plastic pieces with electrical wires, etc.

In addition to that, we have mice in the garage, apparently. How do I know? They started eating my old air filter…which means they are getting up into my engine. Not a good thing.

I was going to change the oil but ran out of time because the brakes took 7 hours to change. Apparently my emergency brake has been locked up for some time. No, the emergency brake handle hasn’t been up all this time (Mike K), but at some point the compressor completely locked down.

Front brakes were easy to put on, but the back brakes were impossible, even with a c-clamp. By dark we still needed to bleed the brakes and dad and I were too tired to mess with it so I decided to just drive his truck into work yesterday.

On the way in his engine light came on, which apparently is normal, but I called him up to check and he said that he and my uncle had finished bleeding my brakes and if I wanted he would come switch vehicles. I wasn’t too far out of town so I agreed.

A cop stops behind me wondering why I was sitting on the side of route 15, so I lied and said I was broke down and waiting for my dad.

When dad and I switch vehicles, the brakes seem like they are working fine, but once I switched into 5th gear I lost all power. It seemed like my brakes were frozen again, and I could smell it when dad had pulled up. I stopped and got gas and when I got back on the highway everything was fine and I had power in 5th gear again. I thought maybe it was just that there was brake fluid on the rotor or something and maybe it just needed to burn off. When I left work later in the day they were fine so I’m hoping it was just the one time thing, but I’ll have to keep an eye on it.

I’m definitely going to invest the $100 into a floor jack sometime soon, these hydrolic jacks just don’t cut it on these smaller cars. Have I mentioned I hate fuel injection? I eventually may invest the $3k or so into a lift in the garage, especially when I start restoring my bronco.

Read More...

New Truck and Swing State

Since PA does inspections every year, dad and I are going to have trouble with our trucks. Mine I planned to take off the road anyway and start working on it (they want no rust at all, wtf?), and Dads we’re probably just going to tear the bed off of and put a wooden flatbed on it.

But a guy my dad knows just bought a new Chevy and wants to give us his old Ford. Apparently it’s in pretty good shape, not sure what year it is, but dad says it will pass inspection, so that’s good :) We also might have a buyer for the blue bronco, but only for $500. I don’t really want to get rid of it, but I’m not going to do anything with it anytime soon. My bronco is always first priority.

Also I’m trying to work it so I can vote in the state of PA during this next election since it is a swing state. You have to have proof that you’ve been living here for a month, so I’m trying to sort that out. I will be living here as of October 1st, even though I’ve been living here literally since the end of July. The only bill I get that comes here in my name is the cable bill, and I don’t know if that would count. Our driver’s licenses are all still in the state of MD.

It says a piece of identification is required to vote, and that’s the only one I have. I guess I’ll have to get that switched over sooner than later. Anyone have experience with dealing with identification while voting? Is it different in every state, I assume?

Read More...