Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Garage Sale Gnome

Once upon a time, all great stories begin this way right? Well this is more than a story. It is an experience never to be forgotten. It is about strangers meeting and sharing a connection. It’s about adventure, and life and how one moment can change everything. It’s a legacy; it’s an ancestral history of the great gnome of Simi Valley. Have I gotten your interest yet? I hope so. Now the details may be a little shady, and maybe they are a little out of order. Just maybe, they aren’t quite right, but I know the story could change slightly over time, as all great stories do. It’s about the memories more than anything. It is the story of my family. I am Gerard the Gnome. This is the story of my grandpa Geoff the Gnome and his experience once upon a time in Simi Valley, CA.

So growing up I heard all about my Grandpa. He was a great Gnome, loved all other gnomes and was living the dream. He found a family and was living in their backyard. He felt like part of family and enjoyed watching their kids grow old. He was happy in his home and was content in his life. One day his hat got broken by one of the kids. They were playing and he got knocked over. But the family cleaned up the broken hat and let Geoff stay. He was so glad for that. Then one year the family sold their house, they were growing up and moving on, and getting a bigger place. Geoff was excited for the new experiences he would get. He had never moved and wasn’t sure what to expect. Then moving day came, and the house was all fluttering. Life was hectic, but Geoff was forgotten. He felt neglected and alone and didn’t know what to expect. He never expected his family to abandon him.

Soon a new couple moved in. They were a sweet couple, Denise and Neal who had been together quite some time. They were married and so much fun. This new couple didn’t have any kids but in time they got a dog. Koda was a good dog, he was big, but was friendly and kind. Geoff was happy with his new family. He knew he was no longer abandoned and life was going to be happy once again. He loved watching the family celebrate life events, and have parties. He enjoyed watching Koda play with his friends Hershey and Moose. He felt like he had never felt before. Years passed by and one day his new family held a garage sale. Things were changing once again. Geoff knew it too. He’d begun to realize that life changes, the life of a garden gnome is never the same, it’s unpredictable. One day you have a family and the next you don’t. You never know if you’ll stay in one yard or move on.

The day of the garage sale came and Denise’s sweet sister Renee came over to help. Renee was always a giver. She would spend her time helping when she could and was prepared to spend the day with Denise aiding the sale. Who knows where Neal was that day? The sisters were prepared. They set things up; they had their fanny pack and change. They had drinks and food and were ready to go. People came and went all morning and things were moving along nicely. Then along came a nice Irishman (I think it was an Irishman, like I said these stories can sometimes be a little off over time) the girls were ready

Girls: Good Afternoon, Sir
Man: Well hello there! I was wondering if you have any garden tools or supplies you might be selling?
Denise: I’m not sure if I have much, I know I have a gnome with a broken hat.
Man: I’d love to see this gnome with a broken hat!
Denise: Ok let’s go. (Denise and the man went to the backyard to check for garden supplies and see Geoff)

After some time in the back the gentleman buys the gnome! Geoff was on to a new yard and a new adventure! He was sad to leave Denise, Neal and Koda but was excited to see what he might find in his new place. He left with a tear in his eye and knew his life would never be the same! In time Denise and Neal moved on as well, their lives too would change. Renee was still the sister who would serve and help when possible. She would assist at all of Denise’s garage sale endeavors, except the one on a Friday when she had to work.

Another time during the great Texas tract garage sale, Denise would be assisting her friend Laura and saw this gentleman one day, she asked him if he was looking for a gnome with a broken hat! The gentleman smiled! He was thrilled so see his friend again! He was glad that he had gotten Geoff and was happy with his new friend! Renee would also see the gentleman that day, as she too was assisting a friend in the Texas Tract garage sale. She didn’t talk to the man that day, but remembered him and Geoff as well. It was a great laugh later for Denise and Renee to realize that they’d both seen their friend again!

Nobody knows now where Grandpa Geoff is living. But we know if he’s with the Irish gentleman who like to find gardening supplies at garage sales, then he is still the happiest garden gnome around! The gentleman has a great sense of humor and was so sweet. The girls have had a few garage sale adventures since then. Sadly, this has been without seeing their friend. Hopefully he too is living well and enjoying his gnome with a broken hat!

Now back to my story, as I said I am Gerard. A few short months ago when Denise and Neal were preparing to move once again, Renee saw me on clearance at Wal-Mart. She knew she couldn’t pass me up. I brought a smile to her face. She remembered her garage sale days with Denise. She remembered Grandpa Geoff and she remembered the Irishman. She wondered where he is this day. She knew that Denise would remember the good times too. She bought me and took me home. She knew that with Denise and Neal moving I would be a welcomed remembrance from their younger days in Simi Valley. She knew that I would bring a smile to Denise’s face and would be unexpected. She even thought about breaking my hat, but knew that was Grandpa’s story. Mine has yet to be learned or told. I have many adventures to experience yet! So I’ve spent several months with Renee. We’ve been picking lemons in her backyard, and on the occasional adventure, but mostly I’ve spent my time in Renee’s room. Things are always changing there too! But I miss the great outdoors, I miss having a garden and so now I am ready to travel. I hear I am going to South Carolina. I am not sure where that is, Renee tells me it’s pretty far from here. She says that my life there will be as exciting as Grandpa’s life was since I will be with Denise, Neal and even Koda. But she says that it will be different from Grandpa’s too! She said I am going to have 4 seasons. That I will maybe get to experience snow! She says that whatever happens, I will be well taken care of and loved. So I am excited for that new adventure. I am excited to finally meet them and look forward to the day when Renee comes to say hello. I can’t wait to show her my new yard and all the views it has. I can’t wait to see deer and other wildlife. I am ready to start my story. I may not be a garage sale gnome. But I am already loved beyond my wildest dreams and I know that grandpa Geoff is proud of me for standing up tall and being ready for adventure!

Well that is grandpa’s story, to the best of my recollection. It’s a fun story and I am thankful to have known it. I am glad to know that adventure is out there. I am glad to know that even if things change I can change too. I am glad to know that even if I have a broken hat I can still be loved. I am excited for my days ahead. I am excited to travel, and ready to experience snow and to meet everyone in South Carolina. This is the beginning to my story now and one day I will share it entirely too.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A true friend

I'm not myself when you're around
You lift my feet up off the ground
You help me spread my wings to fly
Set my goals within the sky
I really don't know what to say
I'm becoming a new person each new day
It's like you're some kind of glue
I feel like I'm sick attracted to you
I don't know where this is going
I wonder if I'd be happy knowing
You've brought my life a new light
Each time we talk my smile is bright
Being your friend is a blessin'
Teaching me many a lesson
Helping me come out of my shell
Feeling like you already know me too well
Since we've been brought together
My life has surely gotten better
I feel like I can tell you anything
I find the joy you always bring
You've been a treasured friend to me
A better friend than I deserve you to be
I hope to be the same to you
For you deserve a good friend too
In this crazy life we live
We can take,  but we should give
A comforting hug,  or a friendly smile
A treasured moment that lasts awhile
I'm thankful for the friend I have in you
Without your kindness what would I do?
It hasn't been long that we've been friends
I hope it's something that never ends
You are you,  and I am me
A friend like you,  I hope to be
Who finds the good in all you know
Lifting up friends to help them grow
Your example is a shining one
Like the brightness of the sun
You're my friend and I'm glad that's true
I hope I'm a better friend because of you

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A tiny seed

A tiny seed
Becomes a weed, flower, or tree
A tiny seed
Grows inside of me
I don't know what will blossom
I don't know what will bloom
The seed of faith is awesome
It will grow if given room
The seed grows differently
For you,  than for me
You may have a strong oak tree
I may only have a daisy
Does that mean your faith is stronger?
Or that mine is no longer?
That's the thing about faith
You can't really judge it's place
We're all God's creations
The big and the small
From the tiny daisy
To the oak tree so tall
Some faith may fill an ocean
Some faith may fill a pond
What matters is devotion
To the power from beyond
Our faith is always changing
When watered it will grow
The size of a tree or daisy
Only heavenly Father knows
My faith may seem hidden
Or buried down inside
It doesn't mean I've given
Into foolish pride
Maybe it's just mine
Or shadowed by design
I know I have great faith
I know that you do too
Please don't judge my faith
I promise i won't judge you.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

I don't know what is real

I don't know what to think. 
I don't know what to feel. 
I don't know what is me,
I don't know what is real. 
Am I just imagining, 
These thoughts within my heart. 
Is it only make believe? 
It's tearing me apart. 
I really can't explain it. 
It really makes no sense. 
It's like I don't deserve it,
But it's giving me such happiness. 
I really wish I knew. 
Each moment of each day. 
I wonder if you feel it too?
I don't know what to say. 
What's happening to me? 
These feelings are so new.
Will you help me see?
If you feel it too? 
Because I don't know what you think
And I don't know what you feel. 
I don't know what is you, 
And I don't know what is real?

Renee Conaway

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Friendship Tree

What once was so small
before something grew,
the seed became so tall
everything was still so new.
A little water and then to wait,
to see what you would bloom.
For a time, not knowing its fate
Hoping the sun would outlast the gloom.
What once was a tiny seed,
with nourishment did grow.
Whatever it did need
you began to learn and know
Once it started to take root
and turned into a tree
You waited for the fruit
that would be so delicious unto thee.
You still don't know the season,
Or how long the fruit will last.
You want to keep it growing
but it scares you so
Something about not knowing
makes you want to go.
The tree has grown so beautiful
It's spread its leaves so wide
You wonder if you can keep it full
and nourished from inside.
You realize the tree is teaching you
how to stand your ground
So the winds won't topple you,
and you want to stick around.
You want to keep it growing,
keep watering that tree
You start to feel you're also growing
the tree was also watering thee.
Now you've grown together,
and formed a special bond.
You can storm any weather,
and keep trudging on.
The tree will hold a special place,
deep within your heart.
It's put a smile on your face,
you hope will never part. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016


Well I knew that I had updated my blog about my car, but until tonight when I signed in again, I didn't realize that last blog was in May! Man how the time flies by! Since that time a lot has happened. We did some electrical tests and were getting inconsitent results, and numbers that were way out of the normal, but not only that, they didn't seem right at all. So it led to more questions and research. In the meantime becuase we had changed out the switches and we checked both of the screens, the next option was to check the actual oil pressure and see if it wasn't a switch issue but internal engine damage. ... so I bought an oil pressure test kit. When I hooked it up I wasn't getting any response. So the next day I went to Disneyland to overcome my sorrows!  Later that week Scott came over to help me test it again since the guage didn't even nudge, so we ran some tests to make sure it wasn't a faulty guage etc. and try again to test the oil pressure. Well my brand new guage was working acurately. :-/ So it was official. I had done all I could to try and fix her myself and learned that I was going to need to replace the engine. Scott left and because my mom had taken her car that I was borrowing to the store, I couldn't go home. I was sad and didn't know what was going happen from there. I knew I didn't really have the money for a new car, or even a used car, and I had already borrowed money to get parts to try and fix mine. How was I going to be able to afford to get a new engine & have it installed in my car?

I was still at my moms house and about an hour after Scott left, I got a text message from someone I know at church. Her text said "Hey girl, I know that you've been having car troubles, do you need a car to drive temporarily? We have an extra" I started crying! *side note, I was also "heart attacked" that day/night, but they left heartsm streamers and Mickey mouse shapes! So I did more crying when I got home again, knowing that I am loved!** What a blessing because I knew that in about 2 weeks my mom was leaving for vacation and was going to take her car that I was currently driving! So I was loaned a 2005 Acura TL. I was driving that car for awhile. During that time we thought we found a used engine for $1400 and were working on picking it up as well as planning to install it. Scott was going to help me, and was going to also enlist the help of his  buddy Ryan that he used to work with. The day before we were supposed to go pick up that engine we discovered that it was from an '07 CR-V and not an '06 like we were initially told. My car is an '04, so the engines from '02-'06 would fit, the '07 was changed. :( ugh.  So I was back to square 1, it had already been a few weeks before we had found that engine, so no telling how long it would take to find another. In the meantime I was searching online and trying to find reputable sources and seeing about finding any used, rebult, remanufactured engines. Each time I thought maybe I had found a place, I would also find negative reviews on the Better Business Bureau or other websites. In the meantime I had the Acura for a little over a month (about 5 or 6 weeks) so I ended up returning that and went back to driving my mom's Yukon since they were now home again from vacation.

Then about 2 weeks ago (give or take) my mom starts sending me info about used cars. She texts me and is telling me that maybe we should just find me a used car, that she would loan me some additional money to pay for it (she had given me some money to borrow for the engine). I was telling her that I didn't want a used car. I was home and crying as I was texting her. SHe was saying since there was no way of knowing how long it would be to find another engine, that I needed to have something of my own to drive. I was telling her that I didn't want to buy a used car and end up having it break down on me. That I was worried that if I did get a new car I wouldn't be able to work on it, like I can my car because I wouldn't be familiar with it. I was also upset mostly because there is a connection to my Dad with my car. I bought it new and have done a lot of my own repairs. My dad taught me a lot over the years as I have had to maintain my car. I learned a lot and am very familiar with it. I didn't want a new/used car. But to please her I started looking a little. I talked to Scott and he said that if I was looking at used cars that he would be willing to assist me and check them out with me etc, to help make sure I hopefully wouldn't get a lemon.

I was finding a few things I could maybe be interested in. there were some that as I reviewed them thru the Kelly Blue Book I would find they had low crash test ratings, or their price wasn't within reason or other things about them. I would ask Scott what he thought and if he didn't thing it was a good option he would tell me and I would listen. I was also being a little bit picky. Having been driving my CRV, the Yukon and the Acura, I knew that I wanted a small SUV again, or maybe a truck. I didn't want a sedan or anything  that sits lower to the ground, but I also didn't want a full size SUV vehicle either. One night I found a Chevy Equinox. It looked decent, was within a reasonable price range and decent mileage. I checked the KBB and it looked good, I checked with Scott and he said it seemed decent as well. The ad said to call/text so I sent a text that day. No response. So the next monring I texted again, with no response. I waited until that evening and tried to call after work, no answer and no option to leave a voicemail. I was beginning to wonder if maybe they had sold it, but hadn't deleted the post, and were too rude to at least let me know so I wouldn't continue attempting some contact for it. Later that evening I decided to do some more searching online. I found a NEW post for that same Chevy Equinox, and it was listed at $100 less than before. I went back to my email where I had sent myself the link, and the link was deactivated. I checked the number I had been contacting against the new post and everything was exactly the same! This made me extra frustrated because I had finally come to terms with maybe getting a used car, and found one that I actually kind of liked. I was somewhat excited and now I was mad. This led me to thinking "well maybe I can find a CRV that is being sold for parts out of a collision or something, that I can use take the engine to be rebuilt and install it into my CRV" **I know from previous work, that in addition to the lack of oil pressure, I have some damage in my engine block and it wouldn't be suitable for a rebuild, so that is why I was looking for a replacement engine. So then in trying to find an engine, I came across a company about 60 miles from here that imports used Japanese Engines. They sell them, but also install them. I found their FB page which had positive comments on it, I found their EBAY page, which was 100% positive in comments and I talked to Scott the next day. i called and was told on the phone that they did have an engine that would fit my car in stock and that the engine would be $750, and if I wanted it installed that would be $600. It comes with the basic tune up (new plugs, filters coolant, oil etc. since all that has to be drained.changed when removing the engine anyway) and that if anything else was determined to need replacing they would contact me during install, not have any hidden charges. The work comes with a 3 month warranty and once the car is on site they go by first come first serve basis, then it's about a 2 day turn around for the replacement. Due to my work schedule and having to tow my car there, I had to work on a few things before being to take it in. I was able to schedule a time the following Thurs (last week) and Scott was going to assist me in towing the car to the shop. I remembered that I needed 3 wheel studs replaced on my car and knew that it wouldn't be safe to drive it home without that done, so the Sat before we very slowly (if you went above 2500 rpm, it would go into limp mode) drove my car to the Firestone and had those changed out. I picked it up again on Sunday and slowly drove it home. Thurs we dropped off my car and then I went out of town for a wedding from Friday- Tues.
I got the call today that she is done and ready for pickup!!!!   So because of my work schedule I couldn't go today, and I don't think tomorrow will work either, I would have to leave work early and t would mean sitting in traffic to go both there and back again. But as it turns out Sat I was planning a Disneyland trip with some friends. So I am going to see if they wouldn't mind driving there, and dropping me off. I will be able to pick up my car, we can go to the park and then caravan home. It is pretty much on the way to the park anyway (only a few miles out of the normal route to the park). I will make sure we caravan from there, to the park and then home, so that if anything happens I am not stranded alone. The shop said that they didn't have any complications with the engine shop.  I asked them to put the new switches I had bought and installed prior to discovering the engine pressure problems onto the engine they were installing, so they were supposed to do that. They said my engine light is off, the oil light is off and there were no problems during the test drive. I am super hopefull! It's been a long road to get here, and I have had to borrow and spend a little more than I obviously had hoped to spend, but I am excited to finally be getting my car back. Of course she's due for a smog inspection and registration this month too, so I have that to look forward to now as well. But I am thankful she's fixed! I was so blessed during the time since she broke down (end of Feb) until now, in that I had cars to borrow, and was able to get to/from work and other places. I am thankful for Scott and all his assistance. He was kind of my go-to guy when i was making repair attempts and was stuck (both literally and mentally) and he was super helpful, patient and kind with me. It has been a long journey and i don't know why I couldn't find this company before wheni was searching for engines, but I am thankful i found them now! It's a  blessing that it's all worked out, and I hope this means she will run now for awhile longer, as I said in my last post, I am just not quite ready to give her up yet.

I have a coworker who has a lot of money, her family has money, and she always has designer clothing, "bling" jewelry, and only drives expensive fancy cars, on a lease so she can always have the latest and greatest. I am more low maintenance, I was raised to do my own auto repairs, I drove used cars for years before buying my CRV new (another reason I wasn't ready to say goodbye, I worked hard to get her) I have no problem buying things at the Goodwill or other thrift stores, i will bring pb&j to DIsneyland to save money. I have no problem living a simple life. One day when I was talking about putting a new engine in my car, she asked how much that would cost me, I told her about $1400. She asked what year my car is, I told her a 2004. She did the calculation and mumbled something about it being 12 years old, and then she asked me what a new car of the same model would cost me, i informed her around $28,000. I know it's a cultural thing, but i don't understand the mentality of some people to basically judge me for my decision to repair not replace. I am so extremely happy to be getting my car back. I have never had names for my cars, even though I have family and friends who name theirs. I have always referred to my car in the feminine she/her/my girl etc. but that was about it. The night I was texting my mom about used cars, that was something  I told her. It's not like I like having to borrow the Yukon, or the Acura or any other car for that matter. That I don't like the size of the Yukon (even though I spent 6 years driving an ambulance, and miss it everyday) and I didn't like feeling so small and low to the ground in the Acura. I like my car because she was like Goldilocks - everything fits "just right". So after Saturday I will be an extremely happy girl again! Me and Goldilocks will be hitting the streets! I cannot wait!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Adventures of me and my CR-V

I haven’t been able to drive my car since the end of February when it was acting up as I arrived to Disneyland and prior to leaving the parking lot. I ended up having  it towed home and my sister Denise picked up my friend and I from the park to get us home. My car is a little older (2004) and I know that she’s had better days. She’s got high mileage (over 215,000) which is incredible to think about. When I bought her, she was brand new, I drove off the lot with 37 miles. We’ve been through a lot together. She’s been to Northern Ca, to Utah, to family and friends houses, to church and work, to doctor appointments and to visit people in the hospital, and let’s not forget the numerous trips she’s made to Disneyland. The people close to me know my car, even from a distance as it’s very recognizable. There are numerous church stickers and lots of Disney ones too. It shows who I am and what I believe. I am always getting acknowledged for them.

At this time there are many reasons why it’s taken so long to drive her again. 1) after getting it towed home I knew I needed to troubleshoot and see what was going on. 2) I work full time, plus have my church and social life, so time is limited for troubleshooting 3) once I did get the chance to troubleshoot I had to figure out how all the repairs would be made. Some I was able to do myself and did when I could, and then there was also some issues, that I don’t personally have the knowledge or equipment to replace. 4) finances for parts and labor (since I couldn’t do the work myself) So finally I was able to fix some stuff myself and then get some assistance to be able to have the rest done by someone else. Sp then about a week ago it was done and I was ready to pick her up. As I was driving home my oil pressure light came on and was flickering. That was new, unusual and unrelated to the previous issues I had just repaired. I got to my mom’s house, waited a bit and checked the oil levels. Everything looked good and normal (one of the repairs I had made included an oil change) I needed to go to the bank and so I grabbed my stuff and left again.  I didn’t make it far before the oil pressure light came on and stayed, followed by the engine light L so I turned and headed back towards my mom’s house, not wanting to go too far with the lights on, since I didn’t know why they had come on in the first place (neither was on prior to any of the repairs or the Disneyland breakdown) As I was driving it back to my mom’s it started acting up too. It was sputtering and although it never died on me, it felt like it was going to. I was so frustrated. I got back, parked across the street and sat there crying.

A day or two later I borrowed a code scanner to see why the engine light was coming on and I did a lot of research online to see about the code as well as the oil pressure light. I learned about an oil pressure switch and so I cancelled my plans for Saturday so that I could replace the switch and try to get my car going. I actually started to work on it Fri night, but due to limited access tp the switch and not having the right size tools I was unable to remove the old switch. I continued Sat morning and even though I was going at it with different tools, and from different angles I couldn’t seem to get the switch to budge. Finally later in the afternoon with my mom’s help we were able to get it out, we put the new one in, I cleared the code and took it for a test drive… same dashboard lights, same code on the scanner and same issues when driving. Ugh! So I got online again and did some more research, a few people stated after changing their switch they also did an oil change and that seemed to work. I figured even though I had just done an oil change while I was working on the pan gasket I would go ahead and change it again, and then of course I had issues with removing the old filter first, because why should anything go easy for me?  Needless to say, that didn’t work either. So now I was covered in grease, frustrated, tired and sore. I had, and still have some scratches and bruising on my arm from getting it stuck trying to access the switch and was nowhere closer to solving the problem, nor being able to drive my car.

After cleaning up and getting showered etc. we went to get some dinner and I went home still frustrated and confused about it all. I wasn’t sure why I wasn’t able to resolve the issue and clear the code, and why my car still wasn’t running right. I knew it didn’t have anything to do with what I had done and I had talked to the auto technician from work and he said that the work I had done on the pan gasket wouldn’t have affected it. So that night I got online some more. I was still searching for answers relating to that code but I changed around my wording in the search in an attempt to find something I may have missed before. I also throughout this time was referring to a Haynes repair manual trying to find answers. I discovered late that night that although I had changed out the oil pressure switch, there is also a variable timing oil pressure switch…. So there was another switch! I purchased that switched and thankfully it was easier to access than the first one, although being short as I am, I did have to use a chair and basically lay across my engine to get to it. I changed out the new switch and still didn’t resolve the issue. I discussed with Scott (the auto tech from work) and it looks like there is also some screens behind the assembly for the switch that can become clogged and reduce the flow, which of course would make the switch think there was no pressure. So tonight I am back to work again. The assembly will require some more time on the chair reaching behind the engine block, but I am hoping that I can get to the bolts fairly easily since I know where I will be working and how to access them. I will switch out the screens and gaskets and I have my fingers crossed that this will be the solution!

 **UPDATE: i removed the assmebly, there were a few tiny particles in the screen, I am not sure if they were enough to cause the codes/problems, but they were there. Also the gasket was cracked, so if nothing else that would cause some leaks and could have been the culprit. I was going to put her all back together but Scott said if I bring in the parts he would clean up the solenoid pin for me and that could potentially be a benefit as well. at least I know it'll go back on easily enough and I am still really hopeful that this is the solution!**

Aside from everything else mechanical with my car, my biggest frustration is that whenever I need to work on my car (or am doing so) people are constantly telling me “maybe it’s time for a new car?” or something along those lines. It is frustrating to me because I actually enjoy working on my car, despite times like now where it’s puzzling and that can cause some frustration. I also had used cars for so many years prior to getting my CR-V and so I am proud of my car, I worked hard to get it, to decide what I wanted and to purchase it. Buying a new car is a huge commitment. I worked on my car with my dad and it has always been an awesome feeling being able to work on it myself. It is humbling to know that I can do what it takes to keep it running. Yes I know it won’t go forever, but I also know that I am not ready to give up yet. I know that financially, I cannot afford a new car right now, and it’s not just car payments I would need to worry about, but there is also the change in insurance and other things that come up with purchasing a new car. Should I choose to buy a newer used car I still have the potential for automotive repairs being necessary and unlike my CRV it may be a car I am unfamiliar with. Aside from the fact that a lot of newer cars have a lot of electrical things going on that make it nearly impossible to work on at home anyway. There are many considerations that come with “getting a new car”. It’s not that easy. I have the connection with my car and the memories and it’s not dead yet. Plus I just put a lot of time and money into her, I am not giving up now!  

You know what I find most interesting about the situation? The times in the past where I have considered a new car, were never the times when mine was in need of a repair. It was always when things were going along normally, when just like with other things in my life I wanted a "change" I am the type of person who rearranges my furniture somewhat frequently, or will do something different. Those are the time I thought "maybe I should get a new car' it has never been because she was giving me trouble. I guess I really do enjoy the satisfaction of knowing I can fix the problem. I think it's also a memory I have with my dad that I am not ready to move on from either, I can remember him teaching me to do the brakes on my CR-V, and when he helped me to change the radiator when it had a hole, I can remember him being there to help me replace a lug nut on the front tire when one was stripped out. I can remember the times when he would be frustrated about having to help me, but would do it anyway, or when he was grumpy but I still learned so much. I feel like now he is still teaching me, mayb e it's through a little more trial and error than anything but in times of my frustration I am calling out to him for guidance, and sometimes I feel like maybe he is still giving it to me. There is hope for my little Cr-V yet. Scott is helping me out and Tim has helped me a bunch too. I am so blessed to have family and friends who are around and are a complete support system to me. I don't deserve it, but am so thankful they're there! It truly is a blessing to me to have them all around. I don't know where I would be without them! I know I get frustrated and emotional and that can make me be a little rude or otherwise and so I am sorry to those that i may have treated such, but it wasn't intentional. I just wish maybe despite the trial of needing automotive repairs, I wish those repairs weren't so tricky, or puzzling. Anyway it is late and I really should be getting to bed Hopefully by this time tomorrow my warning lights will be off, and my girl will be running again! 

Another update: got my assembly all cleaned up,  and reinstalled it.  Cleared the codes and the oil pressure light had gone off (yay). - engine light still on,  but sometimes you have to drive a few miles for it to go off.  Took her for a test drive and at first it was going well,  i thought maybe my luck had changed and it was repaired. .. then she started sputtering again.  Got home and checked the code scanner again,  code was back that it was stuck off, along with a second code saying it is stuck on .... hmmmm well I'm kinda stuck now not sure where to go from here.  Scott said he'd come over next week and help me out,  may be electrical at this point which is beyond my skill set. Guess it'll be a little longer before i get her back. 

Friday, March 25, 2016


So after all I have been through in the past few years, as well as my Hypothyroidism not being regulated (I missed a few lab tests and it ended up being out of range, i've since had my dosage adjusted and as of today am back just within the normal range) I ended up gaining back the weight I lost 3 years ago. At first when I lost my dad and everyone else I was mostly able to stay within a few pounds of where I had gotten down to, then last year it seemed like no matter how hard I tried to lose weight, I was instead gaining. It's been frustrating. It's hard to not see the results you once had, and that you wanted again. It was hard to have worked so hard and to gain it all back.

So before losing the weight I was happy in life. I wasn't necessarily happy with how i looked or how heavy I was, but I was happy and I knew that my body didn't define who I was. I knew that the only person that could change the way I looked was myself, and when I got to work, I was succesful. It was great. I had a positive self image even though i was overweight. So then flash forward to more recently. I had been at this weight before and although i didn't like it, I was happy. Now I am back at this weight and I am miserable. I get so down on myself because I know that I had worked so hard and feel like a failure for letting myself regain the weight I worked so hard to lose. It is frustrating! Now of course some people may say that it's understandable, with all the trials and everything else I have faced in the last few years, naturally for most people weight gain is kind of common. It's true but at the same time, i knew what I had done, and how I did it, I know how hard I worked and how it wasn't always easy. So now it feels like I gave up on myself. I let myself be angry for not working harder to keep the weight off during those trials. I know that the negative self image isn't helping myself currently but it's got me in a funk.

I know that I can lose the weight again, and plan to do so, but it's so frustrating when my knee is hurting and it makes it harder to do what I need to do. I know that is just an excuse, but it's true. Sometimes even just an hour extra on my knee makes me sore for several days, and if I go more than that it's sometimes like a week of pain for one simple workout, or sometimes not even a workout, but just trying to do a normal activity.  So I have been trying to rid myself of some of my negativity. I am trying to remind myself that I am not perfect. I wasn't perfect before and I am certainly not any closer to perfection now. All that is really asked of me is my best. I know that if I focus on the right things and do what I can, I will have success again. That's the plan anyway. I just hate that I was able to be happy with myself before and now I can't. I think I am going to look into some sort of support group or program so that I can talk to people who know how I feel and I can get the support I need. Or maybe it's about finding the right friend who is going thru the same struggles I am so that we can support one another. I know that I can do this, and maybe that's why i am writing this blog post tonight, when i really should already be in bed... I think that it is going to make me accountable. Not only to myself, but to my followers; all 3 of you... if you even still read this!

I am making other changes too, I am trying to be more consistant in my gratitude journal, making sure that daily I am thinking of things that I am grateful for. Without gratitude and recognizing our blessings we really won't go far in life. I am also working on more heartfelt and sincere prayers. I know that not only do I need the blessings of prayer, but there are so many people that I need to pray for. There is so much beyond myself that I need to look for assistance with and I can't get that assistance from my Heavenly Father if I am not willing to ask for it and to wait for His response to my prayers. I need to stop crawling into bed and saying the same prayer that although he hears them all, these probably get stuck on the ceiling because it's the same thing everyday. I am also making sure I put my time into my scripture study. Where are we if we are not studying? If we don't take the time to learn from the scriptures (which is often how we get the answers to those heartfelt prayers) then we again are missing out on a lot. So I started a new 90 day program to read again.

Well if you've read this far, and are still reading, I appreciate it. Thank you for taking the time to hear (read) my concerns. Thanks for being my friend and for supporting me. You may not realize it, but you are supporting me. Maybe after reading this you'll be more aware of things. Maybe i've inspired you to be better at something, and then in seeing you do that, it will in turn inspire me and we will have created a secret quiet circle of support and inspiration. If nothing else, like I already said it makes me accountable to myself again. It is the reminder I might need to look back on in order to encourage myself to keep going on a rough day.

Today is the day i remind myself that I matter, that I am a Daughter of God and my life has a purpose and a meaning. Maybe this is the real reason I received a new calling at church being an advisor to the young women and having to teach them once a month. I think it's really a lesson and blessing for me. I don't know that the things I say or do are really affecting them. but I know that I am growing through those lessons. I know that when I am doing what I can, then I too am learning. In fact I get to teach this week. Last month I was giving a lesson on adversity, and in the week and a half leading up to the lesson I was given trial after trial. This month there is a lesson i could give on overcoming trials, but I think I learned from that lesson not to "press my luck" in learning by life for my lessons. I think actually that I might give a lesson on "grace" so that not only myself, but the girls can learn that grace enables us, it gives us strength and power and helps us to endure to the end. Even though it requires effort on our part, it is still a blessing over all. I think I would rather learn through life to give this lesson, than being faced with more trials to give something else related to adversity.

Well I think that's it for tonight. Time for washing my face, brushing my teeth, saying my prayers and headin to bed! It's almost time for the weekend! No more "Negative Nancy" it's time for me to get back to being happy with who I am so that I can keep a smile on my face and move forward with my head held high.

Monday, March 14, 2016


Well life has continued to be a handful of curveballs for myself and my family. I know it's been awhile since I have posted and although there have been good moments and fun experiences, there have also continued to be heataches and trials. Last year my dad's sister (my aunt) Patricia passed away. So after losing my dad, and my uncle we also lost their sister. It really worries me because the oldest sibling my uncle Charles lost all his siblings within a matter of about 14 months. It was hard on the rest of us, but had to of been the most difficult for him! Around the time that my aunt had the stroke right before she passed I was talking to my Uncle Charles and he was being seen by the doctor for chest pains and heart issues. Luckily last I heard everything turned out ok. But it's scary! Now in the past few weeks my grandma on my moms side also had a few strokes, and on Thurs morning she passed away now too. I am thankful for the many years I got to have with her and I am especially thankful that last Sat before she passed I was able to go with my mom to visit her one last time. But even that was a challenge.

  My grandma had gone to the hospital for the second time on the day she was supposed to be going home from a nursing facility after her first stroke. She spent a few days in the hospital and made it clear she didn't want a feeding tube and wanted a DNR signed. She wasn't strong enough to "fight" anymore and wasn't thriving. She went home on hospice and we didn't know how long she had left. So then I got a call at about 10 pm on the 2nd that my mom was sick and Tim was ready to call 9-1-1. Earlier that evening she wasn't feeling well and was having stomach issues. I rushed over to my mom's house, and so did Denise, we had to fight her but eventually got her into the car to take her to Los Robles (after losing my Dad we weren't going to Simi Adventist) So Denise, Tim, my mom and I headed to Los Robles. My mom was fighting us all the way. She was mad and saying that she just wanted to sleep. That she was fine and that there wasn't anything wrong, that it was just a mix of her restless leg syndrome and anxiety. .... well we got her to the ER and they felt the same thing we were thinking... appendicitis. After about 6 hours they admitted her but weren't going to rush her off to emergency surgery at 3 am. During the time in the ER Deann came out as well from La Palma (where she lives now) with her boyfriend Jason. Once we got her admitted, DEann and Jason headed home, Denise stayed with my mom and I brought Tim home and came back to my place to sleep a few hours. (about 4 to be exact) then i was up again and we (Tim and I) were on our way back to the hospital. We got there just in time to say goodbye to her in pre-op before she went in for the appendectomy. We were so glad that we made her go in, even though she threatened some "whoop-a$$" on us. In the ER she told me that she was going to be extra pissed if her mom passed away while we had her there and she didn't get a chance to go see her again before it happened. I reminded her that we would be just as upset if we didn't bring her to the ER and her appendix burst and we lost her! Need less to say it was an emotional evening. The surgery ultimately went well and she was released from the hospital on Fri, so like I said Sat she and I were able to go see my grandma. During our visit my grandma mostly slept, she barely even opened her eyes and when she did we were able to occasionaly get some responses to yes/no questions via slight head nodding only. It was hard to see her that way, but again i am glad I got to go and to tell her I loved her. The foloowing Tues night my uncle danny flew in aand so on Weds night my mom, and her siblings were all at the house with my grandma when she passed early Thurs morning. After that between Thurs and Fri they were able to get everything worked out and on Weds morning are her services. Prior to passing my grandma had already made a lot of the arrangements and pre-paid so that helped with part of it. so i am now officially a grandparent orphan. I lost my dads parents when i was younger, and my grandpa about 12 years ago, then now grandma. Even though we had a little over a week to "prepare" it was, and is still hard.

Sadly though it doesn't seem to just be my family who is struggling with loss, some friendsof the family lost their dad & husband also. As wel as my former captain just lost his mom, and my former Lt's dad isn't doing well either I heard. I also have two friends from high school who lost their fathers a few weeks ago as well. It's really hard on everyone! I wouldn't wish that pain on anyone!

So prior to my mom's little hospital visit, my car broke down, at Disneyland. It was hard, I ended up having to get it towed home and with everything else going on I haven't really had much time to work on it, until this past Sat. Thankfully (there are so many blessings in my life, despite all the trials) my mom has an extra car (she had an extra before, but now she technically has 2 extras since she just bought herself a new car) My car has 215,000+ miles on her. I even wrote the "So Cal Helpful Honda People" to try and get some help with getting it repaired. So far I haven't heard anything from them (the site said that they'll only contact you if they can help you) I didn't ask for a new car or anything, just for some help getting her fixed. In 50 words or less I let them know that I do most of my own repairs and that my dad taught me how to maintain her, but since he passed I have reached some needed repairs that are beyond my abilities. So she's had an oil leak for some time now, I knew it was a pan gasket leak and John and I attempted to fix that one weekend while we were still together, unfortunately after a lot of work and effort, I learned after removing all the bolts and attempting to drop the pan. that you actually have to either lift the engine, or remove the subframe in order to drop the pan to change that gasket. So we ended up putting it back up, which meant it was now leaking worse than before :-/ but at least I was aware and able to make sure she was never low or out. So I have known that I needed some assistance with the oil leak, but that wasn't the problem at Disneyland. After getting her towed home and during the evenings I was able to figure out that I think it's the drive belt that needs replaced (aka serpentine belt) I have never personally replaced a serpentine belt but decided I would at least try, because I do typically do my own repairs and it does save a ton of money. So finally this weekend I had decided I would attempt the belt replacement and see if that was the problem so i could get her running again. In the meantime Tim learned that I needed to also change the gasket and said he could help to do that. I went over to my moms on Sat to do the belt and then look again at the gasket options.... well Tim had already begun draining the oil and  said he felt he knew how to get the pan off, so i waited around while he worked on removing the bolts (aside from the difficult to access ones, it was at least easier this time since they'd been removed somewhat recently) well after all his efforts, he came to the same conclusion that I previously had (and had told him) that it wasn't going to drop. So he had me go get a repair manual, and when you look for the oil pan the first step says to "remove the subframe" grrr.. so by the time I was able to even attempt to look at the belt it was already getting dark and I had church yesterday. So needless to say I was pretty darn frustrated and upset this weekend because I really want my car back.

A lot of people have been telling me maybe it's time to get rid of her. Which is hard to do. As much as I would love a new car, I cannot afford it right now. I am also not quite ready to get rid of my car. Yes it's 12 years old, and has a lot of miles, but she's mine. I have a pride in that. I love that I got to work on her and keep her going all these years, and I think there is some nostalgia of not only being proud that I can maintain her and do most of my own repairs (I even recently made a repair that corrected a problem I hadn't been able to troubleshoot yet, because i noticed a disconnected hose, while simply replacing a filter)I think it's also that i worked a lot on her with my Dad. He taught me most of the things I've done for her. Those memories cannot be replaced. It's really hard on me when people try to suggest a new car... it's like an elderly pet, you don't just give up when they need some extra tlc (yes there are times when you have to say goodbye) but I haven't reached that point yet.

So I recently got to transfer jobs, well technically not jobs, I am still working for the CHP, and am still an office assistant, just a new location.. At the beginning of the month i started working at the Moorpark office instead of West Valley. It is so nice to have a 15 min drive to/from work with minimal traffic instead of 45 min through the valley of stop/go traffic the entire time. With the exception of the fact I am driving my mom's Yukon instead of my small SUV and the gas mileage isn't as good, i will in time be saving a ton of money in gas and the stress of the drive. I loved my time at WV, and I have made a ton of great friends and won't forget those people or experiences, but I was ready for a change. I was getting kind of burnt out doing the same thing day in and day out and just overwhelmed due to system changes and increased requests. I am now learning new responsibilities and am in an office that only has like 1/3 the number of officers/staff as WV did. It's quite a change and somedays I actually have to try and find work to keep myself busy, whereas at WV I had more work than I could complete in a day and was constantly on the phone answering calls and questions. I have been told by several people that I am missed over there, and although i miss the majority of the people there, so far I am completely happy where I am. I love that I am getting to grow by being taught new desks and given more reponsibilities. It's a nice much needed change.

So I am sure there is a lot more I can update on, but it is getting late and although it's been a trying time, and I have also had some good times, there really isn't much else I can think to write about for the moment. I am going to try and be better about writing more consistantly. I always say that, and there have been numerous times I have wanted to write, I just never actually dug out the laptop and done so. Now I am gonna try and do it! I really need to, especially since aside from my gratitude journal, I haven't been consistent with any journal writing either, so this at least leaves some record of my life for future generations to enjoy!

Kiss You At the Gate

I saw you standing at the gate
I wanted to run and kiss you again
We'd already said our goodbyes
I thought you had already gone inside
Then you were there, looking at me
I thought, "Should I do it?"
What would he think?
I thought I would go for it
Ready to run
I reached for my buckle
The moment begun
Then you waved and turned around
The moment had passed
I hesitated too long
I imagined the moment as it were a song
I thought of these lines
I wanted to kiss you at the gate
A moment of hesitation, now I'm too late
So instead here's a poem
Written just for you
A moment sometimes is all we get
Don't hesitate for it goes by quick
Life is but a dream

Renee L Conaway