Well, I guess if it's normal, that's good. It has gotten a little more quiet since I repaired a hole in the muffler that was caused by rust. It definitely goes away as if it's just trying to warm up. It seems to be tied to the cold engine only, because as long as I drive it again within 4-5 hours, it doesn't make the noise at startup.
As for the cylinder head, I had a crack in it and oil was leaking very badly from it to the tune of a quart a week. But, allegedly, they replaced it with a reconditioned head, which contained new valve stems and the like. The car drives very well now, and does not overheat at all.
I didn't mention that my HVAC blower just died this weekend! That's my first priority to fix that. I checked the fuse, and it seems to be ok. It's a single piece of metal, so I can't imagine anything is wrong with it. We'll see....
Thanks again for your advice.