Friday, July 04, 2008

When the going gets tough, the tough call MEXICO!

The kitchen remodel is moving ahead well, and we are learning all the time. We went to order formica countertops, to match the installed, under-mounted sink we got over a year ago. It has an interesting formica finished, etched to look like granite. Not what we would have picked, but it simplifies getting the sink installed and was very inexpensive! Dave decided to get matching formica for the exposed wall under the wall cabinets, which is a very good idea!

So we went to the home store, and the cabinet/counter guy very graciously informed Zak that his cabinet depth was 3/4 inch greater than standard depth. Zak was bummed and felt a little dumb, but all it really means is we will make our own counters, which will be vastly less expensive. He's over it now. We are learning all the time, and that really is more important than the actual kitchen.

Sarah salvaged the old kitchen wall cabinets. She painted them with Killz paint, so they'd be able to stand the humidity in the basement. I found a couple of clearance jugs on sale at Walmart, miss-mixed or something. It turned out really nice.

Just one teency problem, which nobody thought about until they tried to navagate the hairpin U turn heading down to the basement. Can you guess? No way that thing was going down stairs in one piece! So, we made a little change in plans, and put them up in Mom and Dad's room.

Sarah's consolation was that the wall shelf Zak had built for us previously (which is way smaller) would fit easily in the basement, and she wasn't really crazy about the colors (pink and purple) of the newer shelves.

Since our house is so small, it takes a lot of maneuvering and forethought before you do any significant moving of furniture. All the free standing stuff in the kitchen had to be moved before the attempt to put the shelves in the basement. Then put back. Then we had to empty the front entry way to back the huge unit in there, and then stack a bunch of stuff on our bed so they could get the shelf in. It's kind of like watching a team of ants working on bread crusts.

Anyway, in keeping with our post title about Mexico, I will backtrack a bit: Upon our return from Rhinelander, Dave departed for a conference in Virginia. He was due home Sunday after church in Madison. We were hoping to accomplish some great home project, but couldn't think of anything we could really bring to completion, other than taking dominion over our garden once more. It has rebounded from a total of 13 inches in one week, six days under water, and is doing really great, praise the Lord!

Most of the snow peas survived the attack of the ducks, and the flooding, and they are now cranking out peas! Yum!!

We have lots of little green tomatoes coming up, and hope to crank out lots of salsa soon!

Gracing our front porch are these "Jerusalem Artichokes," which we obtained from our dear friends the Brauchs. True to their promises, the bulbs or tubers or whatever they are took off like rockets! They produce little potato-like "fruits" which we enjoy. I think they are supposed to have pretty flowers at some point, too. They are hard to kill, which is definitely a plus for the Kleins!

We hoped to pick Dave up after church, but our new bus had been stalling on the road, and we couldn't trust it to bring us to Madison. We felt it was related to the fuel: either the line or pump or filter. We got a new filter, learning a lot in the process (some filters include the fuel cap, and the first one they gave us did not).

We are really encouraged by the boys' budding mechanical prowess, so I was not long upset about them using one of our best stainless steel mixing bowls to catch the diesel when they removed the old fuel filter.

(That's Sammy on the far right, who likes to help with trickier jobs.)

However, we took the bus on a test drive Saturday, the day before Dave was due home, and even with the new filter, it died on us. This meant we would certainly not all be picking up Daddy after church on Sunday; I would have to take the minivan.

However, in the most imminent problem at the time was that we were stuck on this country road, a mile from home. Fortunately, we weren't blocking traffic, as it is a country road.

It was fairly early in the day, and all we could think of was to call Uncle Danny, in Mexico!

So, Zak called him, and amazingly, he was home! Often, he would be out in the villages on weekends, with no way to contact him. Danny is an expert diesel mechanic, which has been a very practical skill for a missionary in a remote, poor area. He helps everyone from the other missionaries, the police, and the beer truck drivers. He is very well respected, and it has opened a lot of doors to sharing the gospel.

Anyway, our engine, the International 444, is the same thing he's got in his Ford truck. Zak explained the symptoms and what we had tried, and Danny says, "As soon as you said you replaced the fuel filter, I knew what it was." Wow!

So, Danny explained there is this part, the cam shaft position sensor, and when it goes bad, it shuts off your engine indiscriminately. In fact, the way Danny put it, that seems to be its only function: it does nothing until it goes bad, and then it shuts off your engine.

Well, we thank the Lord that we were able to get the bus home (after waiting a few minutes and a few tries) and then find the part that Saturday, here in town (!!!) for about $40.00. As Danny warned us, it was a bear to pull off of the engine. But they succeeded, and the second test drive was a total success, enabling us to get some diesel and take-n-bake pizza (to cover labor).

Now Daddy is back home, and we are able to travel together in one bus again. Thank you LORD!

With our kitchen still under construction, we do dishes in the front yard (unless its raining). The girls just douse themselves in insect repellent, and bring a bucket of hot water out with them.

Here we are enjoying breakfast with Daddy back at home! We have had such lovely spring-y weather, not very hot. But the mosquitoes are pretty aggressive, so we haven't eaten outside as much as we would like to.

This area has also become Hannah's main wood finishing area, when we are not dining!

A few weeks ago, we located a free L shaped formica counter top which is idea for our remodel of the attic bedroom. We needed more of a dedicated office, for various computer projects, and we are praying for a telecommuting job for Daddy, so he can work from home.

Ben installed additional wiring and outlets, and Solomon worked on getting the counter mounted at the right height. Of course, getting it up the stairs was no small feat. We took off the doors, wood trim, upstairs bedroom rail, and a bit of the counter! But it does fit perfectly, otherwise!

Coupled with a new window air conditioner, this has worked out really well for us.

We enjoyed our first campfire, after the boys mowed our trail to the fire ring. We started before sundown, with leftover beans and hot dog casserole, and enjoyed a game of "Occupation" after our meal. Since Gideon is now pushing 4, all the kids are able to play. In Occupation, everyone tells the "name keeper" (privately) an occupation. Some of them are boring, some silly, some in-between. During Gideon's first game, the list (which the name keeper reads before the guessing begins) sounded like this:

1. Zuchinni-picker
2. Saharan snow plow driver
3. Onion watcher
4. Napkin folder ... on and on... and then
12: A Giddy!

Each person takes a turn asking one person if they are one of the occupations. If they are wrong, the person asked gets a turn, and if they are right, they get to ask another person.

Every so often, the names remaining on the occupation list are re-read, to refresh everyone's memory. Whenever Daddy (the name keeper) read "A Giddy", Gideon, just coincidentally, burst into laughter and rubbed his hands together in excitement.

We let Gideon enjoy the suspense for quite awhile before bursting his bubble.

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