Friday, June 25, 2010

My baby is sick!

We two have become quite the icon in our neighborhoods, both at home in AF and in Provo. Ever since I was blessed with her two years ago, she has become my identifying symbol. People at school or church are constantly saying, "I saw you in your yellow car driving by, or at such and such a place." Two days ago even at work there was a kid who recognized me as "The Girl who won the car." Now, after all the good times we've had together, crisis has struck.

Three weeks ago, I was driving to work, and just as I was pulling into the lot where I normally park, the engine stalled and refused to start back up. Great! I am already late and now I have coasted to a stop right in the middle of the parking garage, in everyone's way and just shy of a spot. Luckily, someone was driving by and helped me push it out of the way, halfway between a regular spot and a service spot. Hoping I wouldn't get a huge fine, I ran off to work and hoped things would work out when I got back. They didn't. The poor thing was still stranded there, refusing to start. Luckily though, I didn't seem to have a fine for being kind of in the service-vehicle-only spot. I tried to contact some people to help me try to jump it, but to no avail. I walked home, feeling like a cat abandoning her kitten to the elements.

The next day, my dad came to help. Jumper cables: fail. Battery tested at Checker: only taking half charge, could be the problem. New battery: $84.99 - fail. We are out of ideas. The next thing we could think of is that there is something clogging the fuel filter so we aren't getting fuel to the engine. We can't do anything more where we are, so we begin the tense task of towing it back to AF. I have never done that before and I must say, it was quite the experience. As dad was linking the cars together with the tow rope he brought, he explained to me that he would be the gas, I would be the brake. My brakes have been complaining rather noisily of late and I thought in my head, "Uh oh, I wonder if they can handle it. Couldn't I be the gas and you be the brake... oh wait..." So one and a half slow, white-knuckled hours later, we had arrived and were ready for the next treatment option.

Dad found a mechanic who was willing to make a house call and his diagnosis to the malady could be a faulty sensor in the engine, the camshaft sensor (I'm not sure what it does exactly). We ordered the part: $140, nonreturnable - fail! We are at our wits' end, and nearly our wallet's. After another inspection, diagnosis #2 was a worn out timing belt. This is bad. This is a routine tune up that is supposed to be done at 100,000 miles and for some reason, both dad & I thought it had been done. Nope, we were wrong.

For those of you unfamiliar with how an engine works, I will explain. I found it fascinating to learn. Inside the engine there are cylinders (mine happens to have four). Inside the cylinders are pistons attached to the crankshaft that turns your wheels, makes the car go. At the top of the cylinder is a valve that lets fuel in which, combined with the fire from the spark plug, causes an explosion that pushes the piston down, turning the crankshaft. There is a gear connected to all the valves and another connected to the pistons. These two gears are connected by the timing belt, which ensures that the valves open when the pistons are down & close when the piston comes back up so that they don't hit each other. There, now you know how it works.

The bad news is that because the timing belt seems to have worn out while the engine was running, the timing may have gotten off in the momentum after it stalled, meaning that the pistons could have potentially hit and bent the valves. If that is the case, changing the belt will not help much and it will take roughly $1800 for a valve job. That was not an option. However, I was not going very fast when I stalled, so there wasn't much time for it to get out of timing. Plus, I would think that if something is hitting something else in my engine hard enough to damage it, I would have heard something. I did not, so I decided to take the risk & gamble the $350 to change the belt (and the water pump, as it is normally recommended to change both at the same time). That has been done and she started! However, we aren't completely out of the woods yet, because after the mechanic left, my parents took it around the block to make sure she sounds ok and everything. I've had to work everyday in Provo, otherwise I would have done it. As they were driving it around, it stalled every time they slowed down or stopped. That was a little disconcerting, so the mechanic was called back. He drove it, and it didn't stall at all. Then my mom drove it to Walmart and it stalled as she was turning a corner, but only on the way there. So the conclusion is that we won't know until I drive it and see what happens, as I am the normal partner in travel. Hopefully all goes well and we can cruise the highways together once again.

Friday, June 18, 2010

She did it!

My wonderfully gorgeous, intelligent, talented sister graduated! Now she can come have fun with me in college! Here are some of her incredible accomplishments.

As everyone knows, Samantha was a member of the American Fork Marching Band and participated as a bearer of a big stick (aka clarinet for those who don't know the band lingo). She always did a great job, and I always loved going to watch her competitions.

She was chosen as the American Fork Sterling Scholar for Visual Arts, and she got all the way to the finals- don't know why they didn't pick her, but we aren't bitter or anything.

Samantha is an incredible artist! So I thought I would put up some of her portfolio.

Self Portraits

This one makes me giggle because I can just see the attitude seething. This was a school assignment and she was obviously not too thrilled about it. :)

I love her eyes in this one.

Tiger Love
This blows my mind. Pointillism. Millions of dots. Those are all dots! Needless to say, she was working on this for quite a while.

Close-up of the eye

Milo the Guinea Pig
Since the moment he was born, he was Samantha's baby. He and his siblings were born on 9/11. He's the second one from the front with the white stripe on his nose. He was a great pet, & Samantha really loved him.

AragornThis is something called a lino-cut. She carved out a piece of linoleum (that's really hard, by the way), then rolled ink on it and stamped it on paper. She didn't really like doing it and wasn't super thrilled with how it came out, but I still think it's a cool design.

Eiffel Cat
I'm proud to say I helped inspire this one. Ok, so it's only because the Tower is my picture that happened to be sitting on my floor behind Ralph, but still. :) This is white pencil on black paper, which is more difficult that one would think. Instead of concentrating on creating the shape, you focus on the highlights. Neat.

Fruits of "Pear"adise
She submitted this one to the Reflections contest where it won second place on the district level. It's kind of a funny story, because it was a last-minute submission, so she didn't actually title it; her teacher did. It was done in prismacolor colored pencil and has stripes of solarization.

This is a favorite picture of our father, taken for a faculty picture at BYU. We think it's got lots of character.

This is a French poet with one of his poems about death along with a red anemone, symbolizing death and a withering almond blossom, symbolizing hope, or rather a lack of it. It's incredible to me how piercing his gaze is, despite the pastel with which he was created.

Old Tractor in a Wheat FieldThis is a collection of pictures my dad took on his mission that Samantha did in acrylics. I like the colors and the way the medium adds to the rustic feel.

London ManAnother of my dad's photos, one he took on a band tour in England. This one has been chosen to hang in the Covey Center until August.

Hanashi-Banashi (chit-chat in Japanese)
Again, a mission picture from Japan- just a bunch of old ladies waiting for the bus. It's terrific!

Tea Time
This is Samantha's first watercolor. It's absolutely incredible, looks just like the photograph. In fact many people think it is a photo when they first see it.

So there you have it, just a few of Samantha's masterpieces. Be sure to look for her name in famous museums 10 years from now! :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Spontanious Rain Dance!

About 15 minutes ago as we were watching Over the Hedge, we began to notice lightning flashing in the sky... rain dance!! We tore outside and performed our ridiculous whirligigs and before long, fat, healthy rain drops came pouring out of the sky and we continued to celebrate. It was nice, warm concrete beneath our bare feet and cold droplets falling on our heads. When we got tired, we went upstairs and just smelled it as it escalated to a full-on hail storm. Ah, I love my family! :)