It’s been hot enough lately that we haven’t done too much outside; as little as possible in fact.  And yet things get done.

We’ve made numerous trips to this and that store buying things for Erin’s future dorm room.  That process goes on indefinitely as the dorm she’s moving to is old fashioned and has almost no storage space for anything.  This presents an engineering problem that both Erin and Melissa relish.

Mel has also sat down and made two photo albums/scrapbooks: one from the performance of Little Shop of Horrors and the other from Erin’s graduation.  The latter is still in-work but will be done shortly.

We’ve also been getting the cars all fixed up.  Erin’s car had a water pump fail and then the air conditioner.  After taking care of that we decided to deal with all the other little things on the other cars since Melissa is not working during the summer and we can therefore put one in the shop and not have any transportation issues.  So we put Evan’s car in (We had him drive over here and get my car and leave his) to have the door lock fixed and the upholstery repaired.  That upholstery thing was there when I bought the car all those years ago and I never bothered to fix it when I drove it and now after he’s been driving it for three years, I finally dealt with it.  He’s happy though.  Then there’s my current car which has three very annoying but relatively unimportant things that I finally decided to have fixed.  So when I give it to Erin to take off to college, it will be fully functional. 

It’s expensive but it feels good to have everything taken care of and working like it should.  Like I paid for it to function originally.

In the meantime, I’ve been building a desk to put in Evan’s room for me to do my projects on.  Evan took the one that was in there (not surprisingly) so I’ve had the opportunity to build another one to my exact specifications.  I don’t actually have any specifications – I just need a flat surface so I bought another slab door along with two two-drawer file cabinets to put it on and now I have a desk for about $100.  Not quite actually; I chose to use up the remains of a can of polyurethane varnish and make the desk top a little prettier.  At least stuff won’t soak into it and stain it now when I spill something.  

Then there’s the pile of books that have accumulated that I want to read.  And also the new song I want to learn to play on the guitar.  I’ve been doing all these things and have budgeted my time rather carefully to include it all. 

The guitar song is particularly frustrating for some reason but I’m slogging on hoping that one day my fingers will miraculously just do what they’re supposed to do.  I decided quite some time ago that you can’t claim to play an instrument if you only know two or three songs.  I figure you need to be able to pick up a guitar and play for at least one hour without repeating yourself in order to claim that you know anything.  I still can’t read music and play it without some study so I have to wait until I can play from memory. By this standard, I have a long way to go although I guess I could play for about 20 minutes at this point.  I can play four or five songs although two of them are a pretty rough in places. 

I make time for some of this by playing hooky from church.  I love my spare time and I’ve had a difficult time lately finding anything to interest me at church.  This is probably pretty common for people whose kids are going off to college; the kids are no longer heavily involved at church and we realize that much of what we’ve been doing at the church has been centered around them and now we’re re-evaluating what we want to do with ourselves from now on.  I have a theory that most people are not comfortable with their own thoughts and would rather be entertained by others.  They need to be around crowds of other people or entertained by the TV.  The church fills that role for these people but I have no trouble coming up with ways to entertain myself so it can be tough choice for me to go there as opposed to doing something else.

There are some large projects on the horizon.  Our house is over thirty years old and some things need to be addressed.  Especially if we intend to make good on our goal of moving to another house that we like better.  We’ll need new countertops and flooring in the kitchen for starters.

So life goes on; full of transitions and activities.  I am very glad at this time of year (that is, the hot time of year) that I hired someone to mow my lawn for me.  That’s an activity that I have never had much of a liking for.

I just paid around $500 to have all four brake sets redone on my car.  This is something I know how to do but just didn’t want to do.  But boy did I pay for it.

Disk brakes are pretty easy to deal with in principle.  I’ve replaced the pads several times on other cars as well as taking the disk rotors to Autozone to have them re-machined a time or two.  This is a really cheap thing to do but it tends to blow half a day what with taking them off, cleaning up your hands, driving another car to the parts place and then waiting several hours for all the other do-it-yourselfers ahead of you in line to get their rotors re-machined also. But that’s the classic trade-off: your time versus your money. 

This time though, I gave up.  I jacked the car up quite some time ago to check the pads.  The brake caliper is held on with only one bolt; remove this and you can swing the caliper out of the way and the pads are removed easily.  But that one bolt was on really tight.  I work at a desk all day and my arm strength is about what you’d expect for a scientist.  I therefore could not budge the bolt.  One can purchase a ‘breaker bar’ that will attach to the wrench socket that is nothing more than a longer lever arm. You can apply more force to the bolt that way but I don’t have one of those.  Presumably once I got it loose I would not put it back with such force and I would never need that breaker bar again. So why bother with it?  I sought out a piece of pipe that I could put over the wrench instead.  I have such a pipe but I found that with my car just barely jacked up off the floor (that’s as high as my jack will go), there was not sufficient space to swing the wrench-with-extension.  If the car had been on a lift, everything would have been possible but not in this geometry.

This has happened before; I had a Honda with a similarly stubborn caliper bolt and at that time I went and got my brother-in-law.  He then called his son and some friends and between the four of them, one of them had the arm strength to actually round off the bolt head with the wrench.  We then had to get a plumbers pipe wrench which completely buggered up the bolt itself.  In light of this, I concluded that the mechanic was the one to give this job to in the future.  They must have some special way of loosening those Honda caliper bolts. They also have a lift they can use to give themselves not only a more comfortable position to work but the space to swing the large wrenches. Not to mention the pneumatic tools to force things when arm strength is not enough.

Then I discovered that Autozone does not re-machine rotors any more.  That was the last straw. As much as I love self-sufficiency, sometimes I just give up.

So I pay a fortune like everyone else.  In light of the troubles I’ve had, perhaps that price is pretty reasonable.