Sunday, December 9, 2007

Another Lewis Quote

If anybody hasn't figured it out yet, C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite Christian writers. And this passage has resonated with me, probably because I've made my living for years working on houses. He admitted he borrowed the idea from George MacDonald; I've never read enough of MacDonald's stuff to find the original reference. Here's Lewis' take:

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of--throwing out a wing here, putting up an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage; but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself." "Mere Christianity", p.205

My life has had a lot of unexpected changes and turnings compared to where I was, say 40 years ago. But I've learned to trust the Architect, and I have no wish to go back to my own original plans.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My Van

I decided it's getting time for something a little light-hearted around here, so I'll update on one of the things that's been going on for me. I had to replace my work truck this fall. Now, I know Rednecks are supposed to drive pickups, but I'm a bit contrary (which is itself a Redneck trait) and I like vans. My stuff stays dry (even caps on pickups often leak); I can access my gear from the back, from the side doors, and even from the cab; and when I get home for the day, I don't have to take my tools out of an open truck bed, I just lock the doors and go in the house. I hadn't planned on buying another truck this year; I liked the one I had and was hoping it could go for a few more years. But out of the blue, one day a shift went sour and its transmission changed from 4 speeds forward to 2 speeds forward--and no reverse! When I hit the Internet to figure out what was wrong, it turned out to be a very common problem. And apparently in the mid-90s all three American carmakers switched to using automatic transmissions controlled by the engine's computer, and all of them have some kind of problems--stamped parts that break, oil passages that are too small and cause failure from inadequate lubrication--makes me wonder if too many of their old engineers retired and the new ones weren't as smart as expected.

Anyway, I found a 1991 15-passenger, already minus most of the seats. It's early enough to avoid the electronic transmission and its problems, yet only had 75,000 miles--for us, that's practically new (I usually buy them with 100-150,000 and drive them for a couple of years until the wheels fall off--when we part with a car, there usually isn't much left)(I should also add that Indiana hits you an excise tax on the value of your car every year when you get your plates, so it's Old Car Heaven around here--a new car can cost you 3-4 times or more in plates).

The fellow I bought it from had started dealing with the condition of the paint (seems like most Detroit paint jobs since 1980 peel off after 10-12 years). He primed it, using spray cans. I had a compressor and a spray gun available, but I've never been that good at spray-painting, and I didn't have any place indoors to do it--this one-ton van is too tall to fit under a normal garage door, even if there was room to get it in the garage--and there isn't. But I had heard something, and googled "painting your car with a roller" and found it. My truck now has a real "Redneck paint job"--Rustoleum, applied with foam rollers and foam brushes. No, it isn't going to win any prizes at car shows, but I wasn't going to enter it in any car shows anyway. It's a 16-year-old work truck, not a show car. I was concerned about that gray primer just blending into the mist on a cloudy, rainy day--now, with a white roof and "electric blue" body, it shows up real well, on the road and in parking lots.

I found where Hot Rod magazine tested out this method of painting a vehicle. They concluded that it passed the "5-5 test"--if you're 5 feet away and the car is moving at 5 mph, it looks okay. It's an industrial paint, just a lot cheaper than the standard automotive paints--you can buy it at Home Depot and Lowe's. And the guys who've had it for some years say you can match the paint perfectly later, you can't always do that with car paint.

Anyway, that's one of the things I did this fall when I wasn't blogging.