Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The End of the Caravan

The car I have been driving was forced on me but I have become somewhat dependent on it. Eight and a half years ago in May, 2000, I moved to Utah and gave my car to my son in Virginia. I knew I would not walk voluntarily and I knew I needed to walk for the sake of my health. I was moving to a home in a neighborhood where groceries, church, and transit were close enough that I really didn't need a car.
A year and a half passed and I was doing very well. I handled my various transportation needs by riding buses, although now and then I borrowed a car from a family member. In late summer of 2001 I began to care for my parents. My mother still drove, but she was having problems. My sisters decided that it would be better for me to have my parents car instead of taking a couple hours by bus and train to get to their home on Monday mornings after spending the weekend at my home. For their convenience, I agreed to accept the car.
Six years have passed and the car has cost me several thousand dollars in repair including a new transmission. In addition to insurance, registration, property tax, and fuel, I spend a lot more money because I could drive to stores and pick up random items without considering the task of carrying them uphill for a half a mile from the bus-stop.
I expanded my participation in activities including artist groups and I did a lot of home improvements that required a long back deck to carry plywood and other items. I had a hitch mount installed for several hundred dollars so that I could pull a trailer from Virginia.
An accident about 4 years ago did damage to the undercarriage, which quietly propagated as the years rolled by.
Yesterday I took the car into a dealership to have them fix the heater that they have charged me 700 dollars to fix, but never really solved the problem. I also asked them to inspect the car.
They got back to me and said it would require $4000 in repairs to pass safety inspection.
That is more than what the car is worth.
I took an alternative route and had another business inspect the car. There were problems that could be fixed with an expenditure nearer $400. Then this morning my son discovered a rear shock absorber tilted down in such a way that the car couldn't be driven. He said it was a sign.
I finally agreed. With the shock wired to the frame I can drive the car to the salvage yard.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Party with Friends

Last night I went to a party with a group of friends I met on the Internet. Most of us wore costumes. I have a draped black silk vest embroidered with gold thread and gold sequins in the pattern of butterfly wings. I made spiral designs on a pair of protective glasses and put curled antennas of thick black pipe cleaners over my ears and wore black pants and a black shirt. When I showed my son the outfit he said I looked like a super-villain. I thought I looked like an alien, so I called myself an alien super villain butterfly. Others at the party were dressed in costumes that involved various degrees of professionalism or ingenuity. I made a seven layer dip and provided Tostitos dip chips, someone made a big pot of very tasty chili. There was corn-bread, cakes, soda, ice cream, some kind of pie, Moonpies as a joke, and the company was witty and funny.
I think it was about the best non-family party I have attended in years.
I like family parties because my offspring are nice enough to be patient with each other and they are also witty and funny. My grandchildren are cute.
I don't like large parties with 'programs', unless the programs are well planned with talented participants. All too often 'ward' parties are dull and make me nervous.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I have a substantial collection of movies, which is good now that I have stopped watching broadcast TV. It is harder to watch a movie than watch TV because you must have some physical interface with the process instead of merely sitting in a chair armed with a remote. It is likely I'll even get a bit fitter since I will have to get up from my recliner more often. The potential for fitness has been reduced since yesterday because I upended my couch and found the remote for the DVD player. Now I can insert the DVD and I don't have to stand by the media center to hit the 'play' button again and again to get to the actual movie. One of my daughters is hoping that more movies for children will be made with the function of playing the movie without pressing buttons. Her little girl enjoys watching movies while riding in the car, but most of the movies she enjoys have to be cued up by hitting the play button at the right time. This is a chore, and sometimes a dangerous chore for the mom who is driving.
My movie collection displays a clear preference for Fantasy and Action movies. I don't have many musicals or romances. Comedy and Science Fiction are probably tied for the next most popular genre in my collection. Most of my favorite movies have liberal doses of comedy in them. I'm not fond of dramas with no light relief. In my experience, people going through difficulty are prone to make jokes to relieve the tension of fear or oppression. Just look at the bright, wide smiles of children in poverty unless an 'artful' photographer has managed to get them to glare and whine.
Today was Sunday and the family watched a Lucinda edited version of 'The Other Side of Heaven'. I like it when the Hancock family comes over and chooses a movie to play. I find that my favorite movies also have a strong moral content. While most of them are not what you would show to children as entertainment, the best are instructive and thoughtful.
I heard an interesting lecture by an author who talked about the use of time by the average person nowadays. They said that after work, most people spend a certain amount of time 'vegging out' in front of the TV. The remainder of their time is spent 'geeking out', or in other words pursuing some interest to the point of becoming a geek, which I think is a new word for 'amateur' or someone who really 'gets into' an area of interest without become a professional. The internet makes this much more likely since people can research and network with other on various topics without traveling around or spending a lot of money.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I took my cable box back to Comcast yesterday after I realized how little there was of value on TV that I can't get otherwise. For instance, Conference and other broadcasts are available on the internet and I have a very extensive movie collection on DVD.
This is quite a bit like going on a diet. I have been tempted at intervals all day to find the remote and browse what might be on TV. It is like when I stopped eating refined carbohydrates 8 years ago. For some time afterwards I was tempted to eat cookies or other goodies. Last year I decided to stop eating any meat unless it was strictly used for seasoning such as bacon crumbles on a tomato sandwich. It took a while for me to stop noticing the sale items in the butcher section.
Remembering those days I realize that it will be awhile before I stop craving the somewhat mindless, very lazy indulgence in TV. Playing a video or using the internet actually takes a lot more physical or mental effort than watching TV with a remote in hand. There are a few things I will miss. But overall I'm certain this is a choice that will have as much benefit for my mental health as my dietary choices have had on my physical health. It is also saving me about 600 dollars a year. ; )

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Starting Okishdu Again

Nearly a year ago I used the Nanowrimo program in November 2007 to write the final book in my Okishdu series, titled 'Reluctant Warrior'. I did so at the request of one of my daughters. Although I sent her a draft in electronic form, it still needed some work. In December of last year I worked on reviewing and rewriting my Okishdu books as I visited Florida, Virginia and Maryland. There was a hiatus of working on my writing for the next few months, but in May I attended a writing workshop which taught me a lot about the craft of writing books. Unfortunately for Okishdu, I couldn't persist with writing until I got the aforementioned wedding and family reunion accomplished. Following that I spent nearly a month tending three grandchildren which was good, but off track for my writing. After their parents retrieved them my next object was to create a major stained glass panel which had to be finished by early October. I have finished the panel and submitted it to the Church Museum of History and Art International Competition. Along the way I also revised my glass storage area in my studio which involved a fair amount of carpentry. Now at last I am open to return to writing and it is nearly time for Nanowrimo again..