Friday, March 10, 2017

So much social media, so little time...

Boy, have things changed for me in the past few years. I am now working on my third book, and spending more of my time traveling to various speaking events around the country. Back home in the foothills of northwest Washington, gardening season is fast approaching, and I am at long last putting together my little blacksmith shop.

As you know, I love learning new skills, particularly traditional homesteading skills. This spring I am focused on learning the art of sharpening; not just kitchen knives, but all sorts of tools. Seems to me that this is a very handy skill to have around the homestead. All sorts of cutting tools are used frequently here: chainsaws, axes and mauls, lawn mowers and scythes, adzes and froes, chisels, planes, hand and power saws... you get the idea. All of these tools are at their best and most useful when they are good and sharp. So, much of my spare time at the moment is being devoted to studying and practicing my sharpening and honing skills.

Who knows, this might even turn into a farm enterprise one of these days.

With so much of my time these days spent focused on writing and speaking, I find I have less time to spare for Internet activities. It's a bit of a dilemma, since writers are constantly being told we need a presence on a variety of social media in order to build and maintain our "platform." We don't have high-speed Internet at home, so I typically spend a couple of hours, two or three times a week, at a coffee shop down the hill in Sequim, catching up on Facebook and whatever else I have time for.

I will continue to post on this blog when I can, but realistically, I have to prioritize my time and energy. I love living off the grid, and honestly I believe that not having high-speed Internet and a TV at home greatly increases my daily productivity. Social media definitely has a place in my life. But it simply doesn't work for me to be on social media sites every day.

So... thank you all for your interest in my homesteading life here in Washington. Please take a look at my website,, for information about upcoming speaking events, my current writing projects, and blog posts on homestead life and my thoughts about all sorts of subjects. Feel free to comment or post questions, or use my contact form to get hold of me. I always love to hear from you!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Timber company Merrill & Ring poised to commit herbicide

View from the uphill side of the logged area; the clearcut is to the left. 
This is about 200 yards from our gate.

As if Merrill & Ring's recent logging of 120 acres on Fish Hatchery Road wasn't destructive enough, now they are planning to carpet-bomb the area with Roundup and two other herbicides. We are outraged and more than a little upset by this news. We are the only ones who live full-time near the area to be sprayed, one border of which is about 200 yards downhill from our gate. In addition to growing a lot of organic garden and tree crops, we also raise free-ranging chickens, turkeys and ducks. Not to mention the 30-some acres of gorgeous second-growth forest that make up the majority of our 40 acres. Oh and the two large ponds, both of which are home to many migratory birds as well as year-round resident wildlife, and one of which supplies our animals and ourselves with water.

The logging operation, which involved removing every single tree on both sides of the road, went on from mid-November 2014 to early January 2015. Just like that, all those acres of animal habitat, erosion control, oxygen production and beautiful scenery gone.

This is about 1/4 mile down from our gate, shortly after the clearcut. 
The remaining trees are mostly 80' tall or more; as you can see, they are nearly all fir, not the alder or cherry trees targeted by the planned spraying.

Six months after the logging was concluded, the area was just starting to look green again. Alder stumps are sending out shoots, a favorite food for deer to browse on. Lots of sword ferns are thriving. I have seen Red-Tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, and even a Golden Eagle hunting over this ground this summer. I have no doubt that many small birds and mammals have moved back in, now that there is some cover and more food sources.

By the way, the eastern border of the spray area runs very close to the Dungeness River and is less than a mile upstream from the Dungeness Fish Hatchery. For those unfamiliar with the Dungeness River, it is a major spawning ground for salmon and steelhead, and we're rapidly approaching that time of year again.

 This is all the notice we were given about the impending spraying. I actually never noticed it until David told me where to look for it, although I passed it several times on the road.

About a week ago, my husband David noticed a sign posted on a tree at the northern border of the logged area. The white 11" x 14" sign is on a tree at least 30 feet from the road, and not at all easy to get to, which you have to do in order to read the thing. It announces the impending aerial application of not one but three horrible herbicides: Glyphosate (Roundup), Sulphometron Extra, and Clopyralid. When? Anywhere between August 24 and September 30!

Over to the right, just above center, you can see the sign as it appears from the road. 
It is impossible to read unless you're within a few feet of it.

This area is quite hilly and frequently windy; the winds are more noticeable since all those tall trees were removed. Because of the terrain and the tall trees surrounding the spray area, we believe that the helicopter will have to fly high enough that it can't possibly confine the spray to the designated space.

When we called Merrill & Ring, we were told that the spraying is to control alder trees; around here alders are considered weed trees by many, although many others (including ourselves) rely on the fast-growing alder as an excellent firewood for heating our homes. However, according to the sign, the “target” vegetation includes salmonberries, elderberries, cherry, thistle and (wait for it) grass. Presumably they are planning to replant the area with fir and other non-weedy timber trees, and someone thinks it's a good idea to prepare the ground by killing everything in or near it.

Incidentally, I see very little evidence –and believe me, I have been looking– of salmonberries and elderberries surreptitiously taking over the place. I grant you there is grass. Are they seriously saying grass is going to impede their efforts to plant trees here?

I didn't have to look far to find out some very disturbing details about the herbicides. Take a look at the Wikipedia page about Roundup (glyphosate). Or this fact sheet about sulphometron extra. The third chemical, Wikipedia page about chlopyralid, is just as bad. Here is a little of what its Wikipedia page says: “... damaging to peas, tomatoes and sunflowers... may make potatoes, lettuce and spinach inedible... known to persist in dead plants [i.e. compost].” OK, you pretty much had me at Roundup.

Is that really all the notice that M & R is required to give us, an inconspicuous small sign on a tree? Would it have been so terrible to pick up the phone, let us know what was happening, and give us an opportunity to ask questions and express our concerns? How about an environmental impact statement, with notices in local papers? So far we've been unable to get a straight answer to our question about exactly when the spraying will occur; presumably there are possible weather issues when it comes to flying helicopters, but still, the range of possible dates is ridiculous. 

Merrill & Ring had better get used to hearing our voices on the phone. Damn right I'm upset.

Like David said, every time we hear a helicopter near us we're going to wonder if today is the day. Or one of the days. At the moment, all we know is that sometime soon, they will be spraying horrible, poisonous stuff on both sides of a road we use daily, near our home, our food and water supply, our animals and the local environment at large. It matters not a bit that we are the only ones –at least the only humans– living near the area to be sprayed. It is simply not right.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Being alive: Musings on the mysteries of marriage

I love musical theatre. One of my favorite shows is Company, in which Bobby, a thirtyish New York Citian is the last of his circle of friends to remain single. He shares meals and social events with these friends, listening to them and observing their lives: how they interact, how they treat each other and their children, what they like and don't like about marriage. Some are recently married and a bit tentative, others settled into the amiable companionship of longtime friends and lovers. One couple is divorced but living together with their children.

Bobby takes it all in and throughout the show, he considers the pros and cons of marriage. At the end, he expresses all his doubts, anticipation, and finally, his rising wonder and excitement as he concludes that it would be worth taking the chance. A chance too good to be missed. The song is Being Alive:

Someone to hold you too close
Someone to hurt you too deep
Someone to sit in your chair, and ruin your sleep
And make you aware of being alive...

 David before I knew him, before the mustache.

I was 39 when, 15 years ago today, I got married for the first time. I have been asked why I got married so “late.” Let's just say that life circumstances in my early adulthood did not allow marriage to be a priority. In retrospect, I don't believe I would have been ready for such a commitment at a younger age. Actually I think, for me, it happened at just the right time.

David near the base of Snoqualmie Falls, shortly before our wedding

What is it about being married anyway? Why is it so different from, say, living together? I hazard the guess that it has to do with the expectations we naturally have about what marriage is, or should be, or will be, or what we want it to be.

Someone to need you too much
Someone to know you too well
Someone to pull you up short, and put you through hell
And give you support for being alive...

Celebrating back at our house in Seattle

I like, and often feel the need for, quantities of time to myself. I lived by myself for a long time before I got married, and am used to having space and time. This hasn't changed. Still, I love the companionship of being together, talking or not, doing something important or not... sitting outside looking at the stars, enjoying the quiet sounds of the birds settling down to sleep, curled up with good books near the living-room woodstove, working on a project together. I'm much more of a realist than a romantic type, but I can, and do, appreciate the romance of sharing simple things. Companionship. Nice.

David with Old Tom, our farm mascot

I have rarely felt what I would call lonely in my life, but I have certainly had many moments of feeling alone. The most memorable, painful, almost heart-stopping of these moments have occurred within my marriage. The almost indescribable vulnerability of being disconnected from someone you love so much... like being on the outside of a house, the structure, the bones of the edifice you imagined to be so solid, so sure... looking up at the windows to see all the shades pulled down. What has happened here? Am I locked out? Is he huddled somewhere inside, in the dark, as frightened and miserable as I?

Make me confused, mock me with praise
Let me be used, vary my days
But alone is alone, not alive

Gotta love a man who hauls wood and picks up eggs at the same time!

We both brought a lot of baggage with us into this relationship. It is frustrating to me that, in spite of all my efforts and willingness to let things go, to forgive and move on, so many past hurts still lurk in the shadows, waiting their moment to rear up and cause new pain. Some of my most awful moments have been those where I find myself wanting to strike back, to force him to experience the pain I want to blame him for... and I know that isn't really me, that in my heart what I want him to experience is how much I love him, adore him, care for him, want to be here with him. It is probably inevitable that we hurt each other at times, although I suspect this is mostly about wanting someone to share our own pain. I just want to always be sorry when I cause him pain, not glad.

Someone you have to let in
Someone whose feelings you spare
Someone who, like it or not, will want you to share
A little, a lot, of being alive

Terror at 1000 feet! I love a man with a sense of humor.

There is so much that I want to give this man. So much I want –no, need– to share with him. We are both people who find it easier to give than to receive, though, both a little wary of being rejected. What would happen if it turned out that he doesn't want or need anything that I have to offer? When this thought intrudes occasionally I push it away; whatever is happening at the moment, it simply can't be true. I have the evidence of these 15 years for that.

Yes, life is a dynamic thing, evolving and changing and transforming us in the process. But the things that drew us together, attracted us to each other, stirred up and wrapped us round with whatever mysterious glue it is that forms that bond between two people... those things are still there, still just as true as ever. Like a kaleidoscope; all the pieces are there, always the same, but when you shake it, turn it over, aim it at the light, the pieces roll and clatter and slip into an almost infinite variety of unpredictable patterns. That's how I see marriage. I hope I never find myself taking it for granted.

David and our cat Cosmo napping

What ever happened to Bobby, I wonder? Did he follow his heart, find a true partner and learn to navigate the risky but glorious, unknown but exciting experience of marriage? I hope so. Perhaps it sounds simplistic, or even a bit silly, but I honestly like being married. I love and treasure the man I married, and I want to be grateful every day that I am here in this beautiful place, this home that is ours, all that we share and know as our marriage.

Somebody crowd me with love
Somebody force me to care
Somebody make me come through, I'll always be there
Frightened as you to help us survive
Being alive, being alive, being alive... being alive!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A personal note on the Charleston church tragedy

I don't usually air my views on things like this publicly. The recent shooting at a church in South Carolina has moved me to make an exception.

For quite some time now, I have avoided listening to the news as much as possible. This isn't a put-my-head-in-the-sand strategy, it's more about trying not to allow myself to be bombarded by negativity. I do like to be informed, especially during election years, though, and I must admit that it isn't easy to find that balance between learning what I'd like to know in order to make good choices and not absorbing too much negative energy.

I am not on Facebook every day. In fact, this morning is the first time I've logged onto FB in over a week, and I feel a bit overwhelmed by the quantity and tone of the posts relating to the Charleston shooting. One post was about a woman who was reportedly calling for a "race war" in response to the shooting. Several speculated about whether the shooting victims were actually actors who were paid to be there. While I had heard a little on the radio about the messages of forgiveness and compassion coming from the church congregation, there was very little mention of this on FB.

My husband likes to listen to the news headlines at the top of every hour on NPR, and while I am usually in the other room, I can't always avoid hearing some of it. So I did hear the soundbites about the church shooting in Charleston. Then there was the inevitable reaction; on the radio, on Facebook, and elsewhere. I don't want to talk about the exploitation of this horrible event by those seeking to make political hay out of other people's pain. Nor do I have a personal agenda having to do with race or gun control or religion. I would like to share my opinion on what leads to this kind of violence, and what we can and should do about it.

Here's what happened: This individual made a series of choices that led him to this church. He had some kind of issue (real or imagined, who knows?) and chose to address his problem with violence toward others. What we should be asking is, how, in a society like ours, does a person get to a place where he (or she) decides that the solution to his or her problem is to respond with violence? Even young children are making this choice. Something is very wrong here, and it is bigger than race or arms or religion.

I do not believe that what happened in Charleston was based on race. I don't believe that the person responsible would not have committed a violent act if only he hadn't had access to a gun. Why are we so quick to want to place the responsibility for this kind of thing outside the individual who did it? I think it's time to start separating symptoms of problems from the actual problem that lies at the root of awful violence like this. It's not enough to shrug our shoulders and say it couldn't have been prevented; once we concede that, we have declared we are powerless to change anything, and we have condemned ourselves to a life of fear.

We should not accept that! I don't know what the answers are, and I'm sure that any solution will take time and it will be difficult. Yes, ultimately it was this individual's choice to act as he did. But we are all sharing this planet for a reason, and I believe it's our responsibility to support each other in the choices that we make, including teaching our children problem-solving skills that work in the long run.

Frankly, I'm sick and tired of everything being turned into a "war." To me, this implies an adversarial situation, and leads us to view each other as enemies or at least potential enemies. What if, instead, we use this opportunity to look into our own hearts, reach out to those around us in love and compassion, and promote messages of peace? Let the healing begin.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

So what's the deal with nitrates in your food?

I've been thinking about writing about nitrates for quite some time, and I am finally getting around to doing it. I'll do my best to stay off of my soapbox; it truly annoys me to read the scare-mongering idiocy when it comes to nitrates. OK, got that off my chest.

To begin with, what exactly are nitrates? In this post I will discuss only sodium nitrate; potassium nitrate (saltpeter) and sodium nitrite are different and deserve their own separate consideration, so this discussion will comprise two or three posts. Sodium nitrate is a salt compound. Read the Wikipedia page about sodium nitrate; lots to consider when thinking about whether you want to eat anything with nitrates added.

Nitrates have traditionally been used as an additive in cured meats such as ham and bacon. For me the relevant question is, what is the function of nitrates in this context? Why are they there, and are they really necessary?

Here is the bottom line: In cured meats, nitrates act as an anti-oxidant. What does this mean? Well, you know when you open a package of ground beef, and the outside of the meat looks a little brownish-gray, and the inside looks nice and pink (assuming it's remotely fresh, of course)? That's because the outside has been exposed to air and oxidizes, turning it brownish-gray. You see where I'm going here... the nitrates, acting as an anti-oxidant, are there to preserve the COLOR of the meat. That's right, the presence of sodium nitrate is the reason why your ham is that pretty pink color.

Wait, you say, I thought the nitrates had something to do with the curing of the meat! That's exactly what I used to think, before I met David and started learning about it. I assumed that, having a chemical-sounding name, it must be a necessary part of the curing process (not that I had any idea what curing even meant at the time). So I went ahead and bought that bacon and that sandwich meat, assuming that I had no choice.

Here's the thing: No matter what anyone says, it's the SALT that preserves the meat, not the nitrates or anything else. In Italy, for example, they still make prosciutto the same way they've been doing it for hundreds of years: they bury the pork leg in a box of salt and let it sit.

Guess what, you DO have a choice about using nitrates, if you want to cure your own ham or bacon. On a tip from the butcher at our local QFC when we still lived in Seattle, I picked up a copy of a book published in the 1960s by the USDA for meat-industry professionals. Among many other interesting things, I learned that an acceptable substitute for sodium nitrate in cured meats is ascorbic acid. That's right, Vitamin C. Aha! We all know that Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant, right? So this makes a lot of sense, although these days what is written in charcuterie books defaults to the "you must add sodium nitrate" position.

One thing that really irritates me lately is the ways that the meat industry finds of getting around the labeling regulations about nitrates. Case in point: My husband David absolutely does not want to eat anything with nitrates in it. So, he recently brought home a package of Hempler's "uncured" bacon. The label clearly says, "No nitrates added.* Ah yes, the pesky asterisk. I finally found the very tiny printing that explained the asterisk: "Except those [referring to nitrates] naturally occurring in celery juice."

Huh? Excuse me, but if it looks like a nitrate and quacks like a nitrate, it's a nitrate! So I have gone back to curing our own bacon, something I hadn't done in at least a couple of years since we stopped raising pigs. I have 3 legs of prosciutto that I cured using only salt and spices and white wine, and I promise you it's safe to eat.

There are definitely specific health concerns when it comes to sodium nitrate, potassium nitrate and sodium nitrite; again I refer you to the Wikipedia page. Now that you know that the nitrate is there simply to preserve the color, you are in a position to make a more informed decision about whether you want to use it or eat it.

More exciting details coming in the next post! Stay tuned,and let me know what you think in the meantime.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Making Montreal-style bagels at home

What is it about Montreal-style bagels? I love everything about them, including making them. They're quicker to make than regular bread, require no kneading, and are delicious for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, you name it.

Montreal bagels have some things in common with your classic bagel, but differ in some ways too. The cooking part is similar: After the dough rises and is shaped and rested, the bagels are dropped into simmering water briefly before being baked. The boiling pot for Montreal bagels includes malt powder and honey, which add an extra touch of sweetness and shine to the bagels.

The dough is different too. Montreal bagel dough is slightly sweetened with honey, and also has egg and malt powder. They are coated on both sides with sesame seeds after they come out of the boiling pot and before they go into the oven. Traditionally, they are baked in a wood-fired oven, although you will get good results from baking them on a baking stone in your home oven as well.

Montreal bagels have a slightly less chewy texture than other bagels, making them excellent for sandwiches. Toasting them brings out the slight sweetness of the honey and the nutty flavor of the sesame seeds. I love making sandwiches with these bagels; a simple cheese, onion and tomato combination is delicious, even without condiments. I usually toast the bagel first.

OK, ready to try making these bagels yourself? This recipe makes about 12 good-sized bagels. Don't be afraid to cut the recipe in half or double it; this dough stores well in the refrigerator so you can use a bit at a time if you want. If you do change the proportions, though, stick with the same quantities for the boiling pot.

Montreal-style bagels

1-1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon granulated yeast (1-1/2 packages)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
5 tablespoons sugar (or less according to your taste)
1 egg, beaten slightly
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons malt powder
4-1/2 cups bread flour
Sesame seeds

Boiling pot
4 quarts water (it doesn't have to be exact, but try not to use a lot less than 4 quarts)
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons malt powder

1. Mix the dough.  Combine all the dough ingredients except for the sesame seeds in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon (or a dough hook on your mixer) until all the flour has been incorporated. The dough will be fairly sticky at this point.

Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let dough rest at room temperature for about two hours. The dough will rise and may collapse during this rest.

2. Shape the dough. Preheat oven to 400F. If you're using a baking stone, allow at least 45 minutes of preheating time so the stone is good and hot by the time you want to bake the bagels.

Dust a large cutting board with flour. Turn out the dough on the cutting board, dusting the dough with flour if you need to. Knead it very gently, just for a minute, until the dough less sticky. (If you are going to refrigerate some of the dough, at this point cut off what you want to use now and put the rest in a covered container in the fridge.) Cut the dough into pieces about the size of a small orange. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. This movement is kind of like pulling a cover over a baseball; stretch the dough as you turn the ball about a quarter turn at a time. It doesn't take long, just turn and pull until the surface of the dough is smooth.

Let the shaped dough rest for at least 20 minutes at room temperature. This is very important. I don't usually let it go much more than 30 minutes, but 20 minutes is the minimum.

3. While the dough is resting, prepare your boiling pot. (The oven is preheating, right?) Heat up the 4 quarts of water in a large saucepan. When it is close to boiling, add the honey and malt powder, stirring to dissolve. Turn down the heat a bit; you want the stuff to be simmering, not boiling hard, when you drop in the bagels.

4. Form the bagels and boil. Use your thumb to punch a hole in the middle of a ball of dough. Use both hands to gently stretch the dough to open up the hole a bit, turning as you go. if you rested the dough properly, it will be elastic but will form readily without shrinking back into a ball.

Have a timer ready. Drop the bagels into the simmering water; don't over-crowd them, they will increase in size in the pot. Simmer them for 1 minute on the first side, then turn with a large slotted spoon and cook for 30 seconds on the other side. Lift them out of the water, let drain briefly, then place the bagels on a wooden peel covered with parchment paper (if you're using a baking stone), or a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (if you're not using a stone).

Dust the top of the bagels with sesame seeds. You can then turn them and put more sesame seeds on the other side of you'd like; I tend to put them on one side only.

5. Bake. Slide the peel or baking sheet quickly into the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes; the bagels will puff up and become golden brown.

Cool on racks and serve either a little warm or completely cooled. While there are still wonderful homegrown tomatoes around, try David's favorite: Cream cheese and tomato on a warm bagel (above). Bagel sandwiches are great in sack lunches; they hold up better than a lot of commercial breads and are a perfect size for just about anyone.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mantling and Re-assembly: 1969 Karmann Ghia engine overhaul, part 3

Part of the fun of new experiences is that they can turn out quite differently from what you might have expected. When I posted Part 2 of this series, I thought I was going to take the cylinder heads and the crankcase from my Ghia to a local machine shop: The cylinder heads for a valve job, the crankcase to be examined for cylinder/piston wear. To make a short story shorter, that's not exactly what happened.

Remember I said that when I took off the clutch plate, I discovered the flywheel was loose? Well, it's not supposed to be loose, not even a little bit. The flywheel is attached to one end of the crankshaft, which is, you know, what makes your car go. What I found out was that, because the flywheel had been loose (and presumably getting steadily looser over time), the bearing that the crankshaft end goes through was no longer round. There was too much "play" because of the loose flywheel, beating up on the bearing to where it was, even to my untrained eye, slightly oval. At that point I wasn't surprised when the mechanic told me that the crankshaft itself, and the crankcase, were "probably toast". (I think he was trying to be diplomatic.)

So I asked him what my options were. The upshot was that he thought my best bet would be to shop for a good used engine. What would that cost? Well, he said, you could easily spend $1000 or more. He gave me a few tips on what to look for, and I sadly packed up my cylinder heads and went home.

Shopping was discouraging. The only used motors I could find that were a close enough match for my car were located out of state. Many were priced at over $2000. I put my own ad on Craigslist, saying I was looking for a motor for my Ghia.

The next day I was contacted my someone in Lake Stevens (not close but north of Seattle, not all that far away) who had a Volkswagen shop. He sold me a nice rebuilt longblock (the guts of the engine: crankcase, cylinders/pistons, heads and valves) for $400. The rest of the parts, distributor, carburetor, fan housing etc. from my old engine were still in good shape, so all I had to do was put it all back together.

New longblock with new crank pulley (center bottom) and oil cooler in place.

First I installed a new crank pulley. It's definitely an improvement on the old one, as this one has degree markings all the way around. When you adjust the valves or set the ignition timing, the engine is rotated half a turn at a time, so the marks make it easy to do this accurately. It is also made of aircraft-grade aluminum, which won't rust like the old steel one. This is better because a rusty pulley can eventually do bad things to your fan belt.

 Crank pulley showing timing marks.

Next I installed the generator, fuel pump, and generator stand. Then the heat exchangers. Piece by piece the engine shrouding went in. I had bought a new muffler as the old one had at least one noticeable rust hole. After the muffler came the intake manifold, with carburetor attached. Finally, the fan housing and generator slid into place over the oil cooler.

Re-assembled engine, just about ready to go back in!

Now all I need to do is install the fan belt (easier to do with the engine out of the car), double-check that spark plugs and all fasteners are tightened, hook up the new spark plug wires, and I'll be ready to put the engine back in the car. 

 The empty engine compartment.

New clutch throwout bearing in place; the doughnut-shaped thing in the middle.

The last thing I did was to replace the clutch throwout bearing (see photo above). I didn't even know (blush) that the clutch lived right at the junction of the engine and the transmission. Since I had the opportunity, I had replaced the clutch plate, which lives between the clutch pressure plate and the flywheel. 
Back of re-assembled engine: The round thing in the middle is the clutch pressure plate.

I've been pretty busy with other projects lately, like my first book, which is going to be published very soon now. So I have been taking my time with this project, sometimes not doing a thing on it while waiting for a new part to arrive. Still, I'm pleasantly surprised at how relatively quickly I took the thing apart and got it back together. In my next post, I'll list the time I spent, what I spent on parts, and hopefully, have some photos of my little car all put back together!