December 17, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

Hey everyone, just turned 40. I celebrated by staying at home for 4 days fixing things. Finished the trim around the stairs. Did a lot of work re-renovating the recently flooded bathroom. Got out the winter tires (required by law in Sweden). As is often the case things didn't go as well as I had hoped. For one thing, can you believe it, I spent parts of two days trying to get the bolts out in order to remove the right rear wheel of the car. This morning a committee of neighbors and one pet dog assembled to give me advice. We tried tying first a hockey stick, then a steel pipe and finally a 2 by 4 onto the tire iron in order to get more leverage. The hockey stick flexed too much and the steel pipe buckled. I ended up bending the tire iron itself using a long crowbar. The bolts did not budge. I tapped on the bolts with a smallish sledgehammer a few times but that didn't loosen them up either. WD-40 did not help. Finally one neighbor loaned me his 1600 W heat gun and I blasted each bolt for 5 minutes, and tried removing them with the 2 x 4 wrench, hot andthen cold, without success. Finally I had to call off the enterprise in the interests of preventing a hernia, but not until I had put some serious strain on my back. There was a funny incident yesterday when I had both hands on the tire iron and was pulling with all my might and the iron slipped off the bolt. I launched myself head first into the fence and then fell onto my shoulder--poetry in motion-- my wife thinks I should be made an honorary Stooge. So here I am, 4 decades of walking the earth, 5 cuts on my hands, two band-aids, sore back, bruised shoulder.
I started the first day of my fifth decade (ouch) with High Mass served by the Bishop herself in Lund Cathedral, built in 1103. The first step was to let go of my church anxiety, a psychological state attained by watching your father and sometimes also your mother prepare for services for many years. And I tell you it is a whole 'nother thing to receive the service instead of somehow feeling involved with the presentation of it. These church family issues are my own business but I did enjoy a description on Real Live Preacher ('Advent Comedy of Errors') of what the preachers daughters were up to during the service.
Thanks to friends and family for remembering me on my birthday. Happy holidays everyone.


At December 18, 2006 12:25 AM , Anonymous Tim said...


I worked in a tire garage for a couple of months and heated up several bolts with blow torches. They come off easily then.

At December 18, 2006 2:29 PM , Blogger Matt_J said...

Blow torch eh? Been looking for an excuse to buy one of those. The guys in the University workshop lent me a yard-long pipe wrench. I'll try it tonight.

At December 18, 2006 7:40 PM , Anonymous daveploeg said...

Happy birthday Matt. May your next four decades be as adventurous as your first four.
Good on you for venturing to church. I have tried going back since leaving home at 18, but somehow can't find a church home. Too much old stuff comes up.

At December 19, 2006 12:56 AM , Blogger Papa Twister said...

Happy Birthday, Matt... Welcome to the 40-year-old club. Haven't they heard of all season tires in Sweden? Laura was 6 months pregnant for my 40th, so there was a big distraction for me.

At December 20, 2006 10:18 AM , Blogger Matt_J said...

Thanks, thanks.
Papa T, the ball and chain insists that we use studded tires in the winter. Most people here do that-- and it does make sense because there's a lot more ice on the roads. The climate is wet and the temperature hovers around freezing. In MN the roads would usually be either dry or snowy, which works well for all season tires.
Mr. Ploeg, we could each write books about church people-- maybe we should write one together. Just to be a jerk I will quote something I read in Rev. Al Green's autobiography-- if you ever do find the perfect church don't join it, you'll screw it up. Someone told me to check out Dietrcih Bonhoeffer's 'religionless Christianity' so I will do that when I get some spare moments.


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