Lost and Found

It’s been another allergy-filled day. I did break down and take some meds, but I’m not sure if they did anything!

One thing I did was to look some more for my little calendar/planner, because I need to start blocking out the school year and planning for my classes. I spent most of the weekend looking for it as I cleaned. I knew I had taken it to Colorado, but I also knew I had brought it back. Yesterday I finally gave up and ordered a new one from Amazon, which will be arriving tomorrow.

By now I’m sure you’ve guessed that I found my old one today! I knew it would happen.

We got school done and I did a little knitting, but my primary project of the day involved alcohol stoves. I have a total of 4 alcohol stoves. One dates back to very early in our marriage. One is relatively new. Two are Swedish army mess kit stoves that my older kids enjoyed using back in the day.

They had sat neglected in a cupboard in the laundry room for many years. Today, I pulled them out and cleaned them up. The Swedish stoves needed quite a bit of cleaning. Well, not the stoves themselves, but the stands and pots. I love alcohol stoves for camping and outings because they are quiet and compact and there are no moving parts. There really is nothing that can go wrong unless you don’t have a way to shield them from the wind.

I have tested all except the oldest stove, and all are in perfect working condition. I am looking forward to teaching Jasper how to use a Swedish army stove to make tea or fry some eggs! I think kids should be allowed to experiment with cooking, and a little camp stove makes it less stressful for me because it’s not messing up my kitchen. Maybe tomorrow there will be photos. Only if I find my camera, though.

A Shopping Interview Meeting Day

Today was a rather full day by my standards, which admittedly are pretty low. I got up early (well, earlier than I have been) and went grocery shopping. When I returned, I gulped down some breakfast, waited for Lucy and Jasper to haul the dog back from the neighbor’s yard (again) and then took off for the Faire site with Lucy.

I have tried several times to get back over there to interview the Faire owner, but have had to cancel time and again, so I decided today was going to be the day. I messaged Sir Dustin and even though I hadn’t heard back, I decided to go for it. I also decided to try the “back” way of going to the Faire. A couple of people have told me it is shorter than my preferred way, so I was willing to try it.

It was a beautiful drive, and it may technically be a few less miles, but it doesn’t save any time because the speed limit is lower the whole way. So it really is a matter of preference, I guess.

At this time of year the Faire grounds look shaggy and overgrown. It was sad to see the big oak tree in pieces and dead after being struck by lightning several weeks ago. I actually had another person to interview in addition to Dustin, and he was there to greet us. While he went to get into garb, Lucy and I set up my new tripod and found it a bit of a challenge at first. I really should have figured it all out ahead of time! I also heard from Dustin that he had jury duty at 1:00 so he wouldn’t have much time to talk.

So I interviewed Joe until Dustin got there, and until my feet were thoroughly bitten by fire ants. I found it a little hard to concentrate because the knee-high grass was crawling with wasps and I’m not a big fan of wasps. I think Ogden Nash had it right:

The Wasp
The wasp and all his numerous family
I look upon as a major calamily
He throws open his nest with prodigality
But I distrust his waspitality.

I knew Dustin was on a tight schedule, so we jumped right into three short interviews once he arrived. Then a lot of talking happened, which was very interesting and entertaining, but I’m pretty sure that someone was late for jury duty!

After that I finished up with Joe and by then it was well after lunchtime and very hot (all of this took place outdoors). Also, all the time outside triggered an allergic reaction which made the rest of the day kind of miserable. Lucy and I had lunch on the way home and I couldn’t stop sneezing!

At home I reveled in the air conditioning and lay down for a few minutes before tackling my critique tasks, which I finished just in time to go to my critique group meeting.

I am so thankful for my critique partners and their eagle eyes. They are helping me to become a better writer. After our critique group meeting, we had our regular writers’ group meeting, which was excellent and inspiring. Right now, I think I need all the inspiration I can get!

I also need to take some allergy meds. Apparently it’s in my best interest to stay indoors until fall!

All’s Right With the World Again

Today I got my life back, in a manner of speaking after four days of being essentially unplugged. None of my wireless devices could access the internet. My “smart” phone had a terminal case of stupid and couldn’t even be used as a phone anymore.

Saturday night’s chai party went pretty well considering that we couldn’t use the kitchen faucet and that we had some light sprinkles early on. It was a good turnout for the middle of summer. I got to see hundreds of pictures of Zambia. And Walter and I went to bed shortly after midnight and left the kids to clean up and put everything away.

Sunday after church Walter went to work on the kitchen plumbing and I went to Best Buy (where I bought my phone) to see if they could mutter some incantations over it for me. The answer: no. The Verizon girl there refused to even look up to see if I had a protection plan for my phone. Naturally, this forced me to buy and consume a mango smoothie.

I came home to find the kitchen sink usable again. I am SO thankful to be married to a man with skills. While he worked on installing the air conditioner in the schoolroom, I fired up the grill and started grilling chicken–something I very rarely do because it takes so long. But I hated to miss getting to grill something in Texas in July and not getting heatstroke. This cooler weather has been wonderful!

By evening I had a functional air conditioner in the schoolroom again (after more than a year), which means that I don’t have to be quite as averse to cooking as I have been lately. The schoolroom opens off the kitchen so the cold air blows in to counteract the heat of the stove. It’s not a glamorous anniversary gift, but it’s a very welcome and appreciated one!

This morning I got up and went to my Bible Study all by myself. Every other time I have gone with Robin, but she is busy planning a wedding and I really did want to go. (It is a 45 minute drive for me.) I was so proud of myself for remembering how to get there and back. I often don’t pay a lot of attention to the route when I am not driving.

Once I returned home, it was time to tackle our internet issues. My mother had already called to make sure I was still alive. I called the cable company and got someone who actually could help me on the second try! I’m not really sure why what she had me do worked, but you can imagine how thrilled I was when I turned on my laptop and had internet access for the first time in four days!

Flush with that success, I decided to try for some help with my phone. I had a hard time negotiating the various menus on the website (but hey, I was on the internet!). Eventually I did get in an online chat with someone named Samantha who listened to my tale of woe and told me that the only hope of reviving my phone was to reset it to factory specs. This means I lost everything that was on there and it was a very tedious process, but after an hour or so I had a functional phone again. I was feeling pretty proud of myself by this time. Two major problems solved and no cost involved!

Then I got a phone call from my husband’s aunt wanting to know if I was okay, since I had been silent for so many days. I was so glad to report that I’d soon be babbling all over the internet as usual.

I must say, though, that my experience over the last few days has been thought provoking. With no hope of hanging out on the internet, I discovered all kinds of time to do other things. I started a new knitting project. Did housework. Read a book. Grilled chicken. I was forced to admit that I really have been spending too much time online. So, I will be coming up with some self-imposed rules for my computer and internet time. I’m pretty good at following my own rules, so I hope it works!

Saturday’s Post

Well, here I am writing another entry with no idea of when I’ll be able to post it. I finally got through to Flynn today, to see if he could help with our internet issues, but we had already done everything he suggested.

This morning I went to Walmart by myself (not having a willing helper in the house) and did the chai party shopping. It was another cool, overcast morning. I wish this weather would last!

The main project of the day was getting ready for the chai party, but I did other stuff too–in fact more than normal since I had no hope of doing anything online. I was sorting through a bunch of stuff in my bedroom, and discovered evidence that I am losing what little mind I have left. There was a stack of clothes waiting to be hung up, so I began hanging them up. One of the first garments I came to was a black maxi dress which I bought last month. Soon after I hung it up, I was called away to do something else for a while. Then I returned to hang up the rest of the clothes, and right at the bottom was my black maxi dress which I bought last month. I was very puzzled because I knew I had hung it up already. I put it on a hanger and went to my closet to find my black maxi dress hanging there.

Yes. I bought the same dress twice and have no recollection of doing so. I guess it’s a good thing I like the dress!

I also got some laundry done and cut up a denim skirt that is unwearable and then tackled a job that I probably should have done 30 years ago. When I was in high school, I had a jacket that I loved. I think my mom got it for me in Mombasa (Kenya). It was lightweight and unlined, which is what you need in Africa. To make it cooler, I sewed some patches onto it. The US flag, the UK flag, a Zambian patch, a Kenyan patch, and a patch depicting my high school’s crest.

All these years I have hung on to that jacket, knowing I would never fit into it again, or wear it even if I did. It just seemed so full of memories that I couldn’t throw it away–until today. Today I carefully removed all the patches, and patted my teenage self on the back for doing such a good job sewing them on. I also removed the buttons, because you never know. Then the jacket went into the trash and the patches were put into a ziplock bag, from which I can retrieve them when I am ready to put them on something. I’m thinking a throw pillow. Any suggestions?

Mercy did a spectacular job cleaning up the kitchen, and I made brownies and butterscotch bars, and then I went into the kitchen to clean the chai pot and start heating water, and guess what? The pipe under the sink sprung a leak and we had water gushing out all over the floor. Yay. Life is so much fun sometimes. The new air conditioner isn’t in yet either. We do have cardboard blocking the hole though!

But hosting a chai party without a functional sink in the kitchen is a challenge I could have done without today.

33 Years

Friday, July 18
Today is my wedding anniversary, though you probably won’t read this today, because my computer no longer has any idea that the internet exists. I really hope that it remembers soon. And that’s why there was no entry last night, either.

So anyway, today has been a weird, nostalgic kind of day. I had some kind of strange nostalgic dream last night, which I no longer remember, but it made me wake up feeling rather unsettled. And since it is my anniversary, I kept thinking back to 33 years ago and everything that’s happened since.

My husband took the day off on purpose to provide me with a wonderful anniversary gift–replacing the nonfunctional window air conditioner in the schoolroom with an almost-new one that Flynn gave us last year. Not having that boost of cool air makes it very difficult to feel like cooking anything at all in the kitchen in the summer.

Of course today was the perfect day to remove the prehistoric old unit and leave a gaping hole in our house for several hours, because once again I don’t think the temperature got out of the 60s. The last two days our temperatures have been 30 degrees below normal. 30! It’s like we jumped straight to October.

Since the weather was so cool and Walter was busy with his projects, I grabbed my pruning shears and headed out to do battle with Miss Wisteria. Everything was soaked from the overnight rains, so every vine I grabbed showered me with water. Then, with no warning at all, I got hit with a flashback so vivid it was like getting punched in the gut. Wrestling with those wet vines took me straight back to my childhood in Africa, and what it was like to try and walk through the undergrowth during rainy season, especially near Christmas when we’d be looking for flame lilies to decorate the school for the Christmas party. Funny how a simple thing like pruning your recalcitrant wisteria can trigger such a specific and vivid memory.
After the wisteria came the roses, and then we took a break to go out for lunch. We went to Genghis Grill, because I had a gift card. As we sat there enjoying our stir fry, I had a perfect view of the line where you load your bowl up with all the stuff you want in your stir fry. And I idly said to my husband, “I wonder if anyone ever comes in here and just piles their whole bowl with meat.”

I didn’t have to wonder long. A few minutes later a very large man approached the line and my eyes nearly fell out of my head as I watched him pile his bowl with handful after handful of meat. When the bowl was full, he pressed the meat down firmly and then began building a “wall” of meat around the rim of the bowl so he could continue to add more. He pressed it all together very firmly so it wouldn’t fall out of the bowl. Finally, he created a little depression in the very top of his mind-boggling meat mountain, and tossed a few veggies into it before taking it to the grill. The guy manning the grill looked at Walter and shrugged. What can you do? I’m still kind of stunned that anyone could eat that much meat in one sitting!

After we came home, Walter had to work on another project in addition to the air conditioner. Getting the old unit out was a huge amount of work and in fact resulted in some minor injuries. Since I can’t get online at all and am tired of playing Solitaire, I started reading a book. Not really complaining . . .

Jasper is at an overnight birthday party tonight, Lucy is at an overnight movie marathon, Spencer is working till after midnight, and Mercy is out with a friend. I guess my husband and I get to find out what the empty nest is going to feel like!

Back in Business

Well, my sweet husband was kind enough to take some time off work this morning so he could take the car in and get it inspected. That meant that I could meet my friend Robin at the restaurant for lunch instead of having her come all the way down to my house to get me.

Robin’s daughter Liz also joined us for lunch. Liz is getting married in 17 days. I will be catering her bridesmaids’ tea, so we needed to discuss the menu. No one has gluten issues, so that makes my job so much easier! I am looking forward to this. I have known Liz since she was a very young child and for the last several years she has done a wonderful job of teaching my kids piano. It will be a pleasure to use my culinary skills for her tea.

After lunch Liz had somewhere to go, but Robin and I came to my house to drop off some stuff and so Robin could give me my (belated) birthday present. I am not telling you what it is yet. After I get it installed I will take a photo and show you then.

From my house we drove up to Starbucks, only to find that it was completely remodeled! (It’s not a place I frequent.) We each got a drink and a dessert and sat talking for a long time. What made it so unusual is that we were sitting outside. The new arrangement has resulted in less indoor seating, and normally sitting outside would be the last thing I’d want to do in Texas in July, but guess what? It was only in the 80s out there! I’m kind of in love with the so-called polar vortex.

Also, when we walked into Starbucks and were placing our orders, the barista said, “Are you Mary’s mom?” Mary has been gone for two years! But this lady still remembers her and was very interested to hear how she is doing!

The rest of the day was a lot less exciting, and involved a really bad headache and driving Lucy to and from youth group. I did get some cleaning and organizing done in my sewing room.

A Brush with the Fuzz

Today started with an overdue grocery-shopping excursion. I am still fighting a cold–I think. I wonder if I might just be really allergic to something that is pollinating at the moment. At any rate, I’ve been feeling under the weather, so when I got home from Walmart I kind of collapsed. After two hours of trying and failing to accomplish a single thing, I realized that I hadn’t had my morning cup of tea.

Mind you, I only drink one cup of caffeinated tea a day, but it’s a big one–20 ounces of a sublime beverage made with two extra-strength teabags. After my tea I felt much better!

So, school got done. During the afternoon, Lucy and I went out to run some errands. We were almost home when disaster struck. A police car behind me turned its lights on. At first, I thought he wanted me to get out of his way, so I pulled into the right lane, but when he followed me I realized that I was the one he was after.

I pulled into the nearest parking lot in shock and disbelief. I had been going under the speed limit and was wearing my seatbelt. What on earth had I done? I soon found out. The officer explained to me that my inspection sticker had expired two months ago. My heart sank. We had to postpone getting the car inspected until Flynn took care of the registration, but I honestly thought that Walter had since taken it in for inspection. Nope.

I handed over my license and insurance card (thank goodness I had them both and could find them instantly) and waited while the officer went back to his car for a long time. “Maybe he’ll let us off with a warning,” said Lucy. I was pretty sure that if he planned to let us off he would have already done so.

When he finally returned, he looked pretty grim. Looks can be deceiving, however. Having thoroughly checked me out, and having presumably discovered that I am normally a law-abiding citizen, he admonished me to get the car inspected immediately, before I drive it again. He didn’t give me a ticket, but he warned me that if any other officer caught me with my expired inspection sticker, I’d be in deep doodoo because he had recorded my transgression and that information would come up right away if I got pulled over again.

You can imagine how relieved I was when I drove home. My car is grounded until Walter is able to get it inspected. And I’ve got to give props to the officer for noticing my expired sticker while driving behind me!