Thursday, December 13, 2012


Unlike the Dixie Chicks song with a similar title, I'm not saying goodbye, but hello, to Earl in my life.

Earl is the name of my mother's 1965 International Harvester pickup, named after the first owner in our family, my great-grandfather.

It's a D1200 model with a V8 and needs some serious TLC on the interior. Battling the old-car cancer known as rust, Earl's been passed down the line for generations and I recently found a soft spot in my heart for the beat up old rig. About six inches deep in mud, an inch for every year it was parked in the same spot in the pasture, this truck has become my winter project.

I mean, how can you say no to that face?

Amazingly enough, with a bit of coaxing the truck fired up. Gotta love American-made pre '70s vehicles. Cast iron? Yeah we got that. Who needs catalytic converters anyway? We did end up having to use the tractor to push it when it wouldn't start again, and I got my first taste of driving with no power steering. Which was awesome.

My father and I did a full inspection of the truck and made a huge list of everything that needs to be done. It's in good shape, especially compared to his also sunken pasture-mate, a '58 Bel Air. (If you want to read a piss-your-pants hilarious story about an IH that was not in such good shape, go here.)

You might take a glance at the bed of the truck and ask, "What in the hell is all that?" The answer my friend can be explained in two parts. Firstly, "I don't know," and secondly, "just shit." The big brown box is a fridge made circa the dawn of man, and you know how I feel about old fridges. After we dropped that off at the biggest, yet most organized junk yard I have ever seen, we moved everything from the IH to our Dodge for a dump run. 

I wanted to make sure before I started throwing shit around that I couldn't really cause any damage to anything. To which my dad supplied the quote of the day, "That's the nice thing about a dump run, there's not a lot of subtlety involved." Ah, touché Pops. So I donned gloves and got to work. 

(The whole time we were at the dump, I kept expecting to find some partially disintegrated human corpse. Weird phobias from watching too much Bones? Check.)

What did we discover in all that garbage? A Easy-Bake oven paddle. Not the oven, just the paddle. This is a toy my sister hadn't looked at since she was probably eight. We found the greater portion of our old front porch, which was remodeled at least five years ago, the cage of my guinea pig who died when I was still in elementary school, a patinated penny from the '70s, about 20 pounds of gravel, and also this beautiful, miniature, Japanese garden. So zen. 

Now that the eye-sore of a garbage heap in the back was gone we could concentrate on other aspects of potential maintenance. Upon further inspection we found the muffler was basically rusted in half, which I didn't really think was possible. Maybe corroded is a better word? I actually did a Google search for "corroded muffler" and this was the most dramatic image I could find. Which is just precious.

Pulled all the spark plugs to see how the motor was running and the answer was: dirty. So we drained the fuel tank and made a list of parts to get at NAPA. Opaque is not the color you want fuel to be, apparently. I have virtually no upper body strength so watching me pulling the plugs was painful for my dad. He mentioned that they made pullers for... then he paused. I filled in the word he wanted to say, "pussies", at the same time he said a much more acceptable group title of "women". Pretty much.
Sorry I don't have vice-grips for hands, dad! But I did manage to get them

Went to our most amazing local gas station/grocery/everything-you'd-ever-need-store, Jim's Market, and picked up enough Sta-bil to let the truck sit for another six years and some carburetor cleaner. We didn't dilute either of these to the specified amounts. Doing which, being involved in a medical field, almost killed me.

We bought out a significant portion of NAPA under the keen direction of the manager, who happens to be a school friend of my dad. They went to this sketchy logging camp together as teens, which, as far as I know, was supposed to be for reforming juvenile delinquents, not a fun summer camp. We got a new fuel cap there too. I'm not sure if you'll be able to tell from the picture, but the top one is the new one.

The oil was black. Which is bad. So we fixed that and changed the filter, the biggest canister I have ever seen. Also changed the fuel filter and got the right threaded rod set-up for the air filter. Because the part I'm holding here was not the original part...

Then I got to work cleaning out the bed. I'll spare you a lot of details but I have terrible circulation and I still can't feel my hands from the cold hose water. But look at it, totally worth it!

The interior was full of rope, receipts, and rust. Here's kind of a before and after.

There's so much moisture in the cab I could swim in it. Turns out rust loves that shit. I can see the ground through the floorboards. We got some rust stopper, but we're going to have to scrub in and do some major surgery and repair on these pups. 

This is the original registration to my great-grandpa, I don't think it has ever been moved. The truck doesn't even have 95,000 miles on it. It's pretty hilarious, because my little 2005 everyday driver has the same number, almost to the mile, as this 1965 beast. 

Lots more to do, a couple items on our list are: welding new floorboards in, making a new seat cover (I'm looking at Sunbrella now, I'm thinking this would look pretty sweet with brown accents), fixing the door panels, getting a new muffler, installing new headliner, and finding and replacing sundry broken and/or missing parts like a turn signal lens, door handle, shifter knob, horn button, and arm rests. Et cetera, et cetera...

I feel like I've already learned a lot, and it's super entertaining comparing parts to human anatomy. Definitely a fun project to do with my Pops and you'll be getting updates as we get them done.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Fall is nearly here, which means another year of college will be beginning soon. I am very excited for my courses this term, which is moderately unusual. I think it's because I'm finally done with math, but also because I'm getting into classes that directly pertain to what I want to do when "real life" finally starts.

Although I'm not currently in the "real world" my current reality finally hit me like a train when I had to go buy my textbooks. This term I'm taking Human Anatomy and Physiology (with lab), O-Chem (with lab), Animal Genetics, and Principles of Animal Nutrition. At just 15 credits, it's the least amount of classes I've taken in college thus far.

However, the term is not even close to being light on text books. Or reasonable prices.
The only optional textbook was in Animal Nutrition, but since I'm planning on going to vet school, I figured it was worth buying and adding to my veterinary library. So there goes $78.

The Genetics text is required- $100 even. That's what's nice about the Animal Sciences department. It's usually just one book, if that.

Then we get into the real hairy shit. One of my roommates took A&P last year, so I was planning on using his book. But, lo and behold- they've switched editions since spring. (Because human anatomy has changed so much...?)
Also I needed an online access code. So there's really only one option, which is the new bundled package, which has the book, code, and a picture atlas, and blah blah blah. This pup rang out at $167, plus the lab packet valued at $12. So $179 for the whole course. Ouch, however, I will be taking the class all year, so I won't have to buy the book or code again.

The great part is that when I try to sell the book back at the end of the year they'll basically charge me to take it back then turn around and sell it for over $100. So that's awesome and totally fair.

Then Organic Chemistry. Now, I already had reservations about this class because I didn't do so hot in the gen-chem series. There's the new bundled package for this course too, but I don't have an arm and a leg to spare so I decided to go used. Used books cost less and sometimes have curse words doodled in the margins (which is always a plus), so I picked up the book and study guide priced at $114 and $78 respectively. This class also required a molecular model set, which could only be bought new at $68. So totaling out at $260, I'm obviously pumped about O-Chem.

After nearly getting a hernia from carrying about 8 billion pounds of textbooks and crying all the way to the check out line, I received the 10% student discount (-$61) and swiped my card for $556 worth of knowledge and learning opportunities. Even the lady ringing me up commented about the shocking altitude my stack of books reached.

Is this motivation to go for the elusive 4.0 this term? Yes.
Is this motivation to seriously look for some part-time work? Yes.
Is this motivation to give up and become a bum after fall term? Definitely yes...

Of course at the bookstore checkout I got the traditional coupon sheet that helps ease the suffering of poor college students like me. Although I don't know what I could possibly get at Dutch Bros that would fix this.

Maybe crying into a BOGO nonfat vanilla latte will make me feel better...?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Security Questions

So I'm tired of using glory technology of the olden days and having to physically send my Internet bill payments via mail. It just doesn't make any sense that I should have to be buying stamps in this day and age. Seeing as they're the ones providing me with Internet, that should be the easiest bill to pay online, right?

But here I am. I can't remember my username or password for their stupid website.

After about 15 minutes, I finally guess the username right, but the password is still a no-go. So what do they give me? A security question.

Normally this isn't such a big deal, except that apparently I was high when I picked it, so my security question is "The name of my favorite pet."


This wouldn't be too hard if I didn't have so many animals...

I try "Bevin", my favorite sheep who had vocal powers that would make your ears bleed.

Snowden, my dog-like sheep that got hit by a log tuck and lived?

Sweet Pea, my ironically named, crotchety, old cat that I've had since I was 9?

Ballerina, my 4-H bunny who gave me my first experience with the miracle of life?
Hahaha cute... no. 

Jasper, my lion-cat with the sparkling blue eyes?
Uh, no. 

Commodore Zoomy, my 4-H goose that thought I was his mother?
WTF? Who names an animal that?

Bubbles, the pet rat that would hang out on my shoulder for hours?

Was I being sarcastic, did I put Lily, that crazy slobbering mutt?
Wrong again

As far as totals go, in my life, I've lived amongst two dogs, five rats, one guinea pig, about 60 rabbits, nine cats, nine sheep, three hermit crabs, one very angry leopard gecko, five alpacas, five geese, seven ducks, and countless fish and chickens. Of those, I could only call a handful worthy of "favorite" status, but apparently Past-Kaya had a secret favorite that's not on the normal list, which Present-Kaya finds little disturbing. Amnesia?


Weeks later and I still have no idea what the answer is to that question.
I'm still buying stamps to pay my Internet bill.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Garden Project (Part I)

I've come to grips with the fact that I'm living my college life off the beaten trail. I have chickens and rabbits in the backyard. I haven't blacked out. I haven't even eaten Top Ramen yet.

My newest project that will push me even further into the thicket of "unrelatableness" to my peers is a garden. Not just container gardening either, a full fledged 100 square foot plot of raised beds in my backyard.

The first hurdle was a large ominous shrubbery that covered about half of the space in the yard.
(I had already started working to tear out one of the Rhododendrons in this picture...)

You can't tell how much of a whore this bush is from the picture, but it was the biggest. With such a cute innocent name, Barberry, one would assume that it shouldn't cause too much trouble. Well don't assume jack-shit, 'cause you weren't there. The Barberry has basically no redeeming qualities: no beautiful flowers, no pretty smell, no edible pieces. It does have lots of thorns though, and a ridiculously strong will to live.

Still reeling from Christmas, I asked my parents just for their help tearing the bush out for my birthday in February. The following pictures document the ensuing battle...

Used a hack saw to sever the limbs

 Digging around the root ball. 

Using ratchet straps to leverage the root cluster out of the clay. 

Breaking the roots up 

Finally making some progress; any place we nicked it, it bled yellow. 
(Booo! U of O colors!)

Out she comes! Sonofa...

So much better. Weren't even gonna try to tackle the Rhodie's roots, we just put the raised bed over them. 

So much better! Ahh... feng shui...


This struggle took the greater part of the day.
My parents are fucking awesome.

After the root-ball-from-hell dried out a little, we used out new fire pit to give it a ceremonial burning.

Too bad we forgot it was the devil and nothing we do can kill it!

The next step was building the raised beds...

And that was the end of one very long Saturday.
I picked up working on the project again in April, when it finally stopped raining long enough to order topsoil.

I got my two yards of soil (special veggie-growing edition) from Shamrock Landscaping & Nursery, they delivered it right to my house, ah-mazing!

Then, with help from one of my amazing roommates, we got the soil distributed to all of the beds.

I couldn't plant anything until I had my chickens contained, they are notorious for digging and scratching in loose soil and eating tender little seedlings. So using left over chicken wire from the building of the coop, I fenced off the garden. Using the cages I transport the chickens and rabbits in, I lazily blocked off the other side of the patio as well.

(A funny note on this subject, my roommate Cori and I were sitting out on the patio when she said, "It's funny how they haven't thought to jump over those cages yet." No more than five seconds later, a chicken ran up to the cages and jumped over. Way to jinx it. Thanks.)

Picked up two extra chickens when I got my animals back after Spring Break... 
In case you were wondering. 

We get an absolutely insane amount of precipitation here in the Pacific Northwest. Our patio has a metal sloped roof that has a pretty steady stream of water coming off of it during rain storms. I put a 20 gallon garbage can under the dripping one night and it was filled by morning. The next day the wheelbarrow was full too. I have almost all the beds planted and haven't used any water from the spigot yet.

I have almost every square inch of the garden planned out; planting everything from marigolds to melons.

More to come in Part II!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Creepy Mother Cluckers

Like most college students, I'm pretty dependent on caffeine. Basically the first thing I do when I wake up is get the espresso machine rolling.

Unlike most college students, the second thing I do in the morning is go let the chickens out of their coop.

I have a flock of four Silver Laced Wyandotte hens. And I'm not going to lie, they're pretty creepy.

I'm not particularly fond of birds to begin with. They don't have eyebrows and you can't tell what is going on in their tiny nugget of a brain. But my chickens have crossed the threshold of normal avian weirdness into a new realm of making my roommates and I uncomfortable.

Like this, what are they doing? Legitimately alarming behavior... 

As soon as I get settled at the dining table with my cup of espresso (or as it's known in my house, liquid sunshine),  I look out the sliding glass door and see all four hens peering in the house. I feel their beady eyes on me as they stare into my soul. If I move or acknowledge their presence in any way, they quickly look away.

Upon my further movement toward the door, they disperse nonchalantly. "Who us? We're just chickens." Much like the penguins from Madagascar, as my roommate recently pointed out, they seem to say, "You didn't see anything..."

Not only this, but I realized they our lives together are the definition of parasitism (one species benefits while the other is harmed). In which, I am the host. I pay for their food and they eat it. I give them room to free-range and they tear up the lawn. I clean the coop until it's spotless and they shit all over it again. After about five months of this, it wasn't a particularly amazing partnership from my perspective.

It's amazing how quickly all of this was forgotten when I finally started to see one little benefit to our relationship.

Today, it's close to rounding out the first week of getting delicious fresh eggs from my little creepers. However, being the weirdos they are, the chickens refuse to lay the eggs in the nest boxes, making every day like Easter. It is much more preferable to lay eggs on the coop floor apparently...

Or on top of the nest boxes... I don't even know how...

In any case, our relationship has improved to be considered mutualism. There's a certain degree of  satisfaction in knowing exactly where these eggs came from, how the hens were treated and what they were fed. The yolks are the most beautiful yellow-orange, and you simply can't get more delicious eggs from a store. So even though they give me the heebie-jeebies, I think I'll keep them around.

I just make sure to remind them on occasion, as I eat soup made with one of the chickens I butchered last year, that I'm pretty handy with a meat cleaver when it comes down to it.