At Even, Ere the Sun Was Set

This is a hymn that I sang and loved as a child overseas. I have tried several times to find the tune we used, but to no avail. I guess I will have to work it out on my autoharp! I thought of this hymn today because I have been in great physical distress and could really use some healing.

At Even, Ere the Sun Was Set

by Henry Twells

At even, ere the sun was set, the sick, O Lord, around thee lay;
O, in what diverse pains they met! O, with what joy they went away!

Once more ’tis eventide, and we, oppressed with various ills, draw near;
What if thy form we cannot see? We know and feel that thou art here.

O Savior Christ, our woes dispel; for some are sick, and some are sad;
And some have never loved thee well, and some have lost the love they had;

And some have found the world is vain, yet from the world they break not free;
And some have friends who give them pain, yet have not sought a friend in thee.

And none, O Lord, have perfect rest, for none are wholly free from sin;
And they who fain would serve thee best are conscious most of wrong within.

O Savior Christ, thou too art man; thou has been troubled, tempted, tried;
Thy kind but searching glance can scan the very wounds that shame would hide.

Thy touch has still its ancient power. no word from thee can fruitless fall;
Hear, in this solemn evening hour, and in thy mercy heal us all.

 

Mostly Music

So, today got off to a rough start, what with a headache and having to go to Walmart, but I actually was pleased with how much I managed to do especially after taking meds and drinking really strong tea. Lucy and Mercy did all the chai party prep. Well, most of it. I made a batch of mug cakes that nobody wanted. We also bagged up a new batch of chai mix and sold a few (very few) bags at the chai party.

I finished chording my hymns for tomorrow and spent a ridiculous amount of time getting them sorted out so I could print them up. Then I practiced. And I tuned my autoharp. I also realized that I had worn out my thumb pick. Fortunately, I found a spare that was the same kind so I’m good for tomorrow. I have less than a month to get to the next level in my playing–whatever that is.

Then there was the addressing and mailing of some graduation announcements, packing a birthday box to mail on Monday, and finally recording my voiceover for Spencer’s graduation slideshow. So much going on! Trying to decide if it’s a good idea to paint something before calling it a night  . . . .

A Happy Day

So, yesterday I wrote a story. It wasn’t a good story, because I didn’t have time to make it good, but it sure felt good to write it. A couple of weeks ago, I learned of a short story contest associated with a writers’ conference I plan to attend later this summer. I thought it would be a good exercise for me to submit a story, because it’s been a while since I wrote any new fiction.

I had actually started the story last week, but I don’t think what I had written was even a quarter of the total. As a matter of fact, I had kind of written myself into a corner and I needed several days to figure out how to resolve the situation. So, yesterday morning Jasper was at a friend’s house and Lucy was asleep and everyone else was gone. I got up and wrote and wrote and wrote.

Finally it was time to leave for my lunch with my friend Robin. We have both been so busy this spring that we haven’t seen each other in at least a couple of months! We had a lot of catching up to do.

After I got home, it was back to writing. My story was almost finished, by I was also at the upper limit of the word count, so I had to go back and revise and cut words wherever I could so I could finish the story. The deadline was midnight, and I got it submitted at 9:30. No time to let it sit for a few days and then go back and make it better. The quality is poor, and I don’t expect it to make it to the second round, but it just was fun to get to write for a few hours!

Lucy had been reminding me all day that I had promised to take her to the new Avengers movie on opening day. I don’t remember the “promise” part, but once my story was turned in I let her talk me into taking her to the 11:30 showing. I was so, so tired. I would have enjoyed the movie so much more if I hadn’t been struggling so hard to stay awake. We didn’t get home till 2:30!

Needless to say, it was a bit hard getting up this morning and going to the grocery store to buy the last things I needed to make corn pudding for Walter’s potluck at work today. It had to be in the roaster oven by 8:30 or so in order to be done on time. Once that was taken care of, I took my first nap of the day!

The corn pudding was a big hit and every speck was eaten. Here at home, we had a movie lunch. We watched Prince Caspian, since Jasper has just finished the book.

After my second nap of the day, Lucy and I went out to run some errands. She had this sudden obsession to make herself a pair of wings, and she needed supplies. I’ll keep you posted on her progress.

I actually worked on autoharp music today, so hopefully I won’t embarrass myself too badly in church on Sunday. I’m planning on getting to bed before 2:30 tonight.

Better Late Than Never

Today I got up early to make Jasper his belated birthday breakfast in bed. That meant he had to sleep in later than usual, because I was not willing to get up early enough to have his breakfast ready by 7:00!

He loved his breakfast and took his time eating it. A little later I took Lucy to the credit union to open a checking and savings account so she will be able to use a debit card when she is in Germany. She feels very grown up now.

After we were done at the credit union, I dropped Lucy off at her friend Martha’s house and then continued on to a pack-and-mail place. Flynn wanted me to ship him one of his computers that he had left in the apartment. I could not find a sturdy enough box so I had to resort to the pros. The cost was a little jaw-dropping, but I hope it will arrive safely.

This afternoon Jasper had his piano lesson. It was a beautiful day–sunny, but not too hot. I just wish I felt better! I am still battling allergies, headaches, and soreness.

Tonight Jasper is sleeping outdoors with a neighbor friend. I am hoping to hit the hay early so I can get up and write in the morning.

Catching Up

Yesterday, I taught my last two classes of the semester. Now all I have to do is grade several thousand papers, calculate grades, and have a nervous breakdown.

Today I finally got to do the grocery shopping I should have done on Saturday. I also did some banking, mailed some chai mix, took Lucy to Walmart, and made it to my critique group, where my latest installment was shredded even more than usual, which means more revising in my future!

After that I yawned my way through the writers’ meeting. Not because I was bored–I just was feeling tired and really struggling with some headaches. Trying to get to bed earlier tonight!

I would appreciate prayer for Mary and Jordan also. Their only vehicle broke down as they were on their way to visit friends today. After being towed to a mechanic, they were told that repairing the car would likely cost more than it is worth. They were planning to come visit us next week for Spencer’s graduation, and we were all really looking forward to it! Pray that God will lead them to the next step. They do not have much in the way of resources.

 

Ambivalent

I’m not sure what to say about yesterday’s visit to a Renaissance faire. I have very strong feelings about it. Very strong very mixed feelings. The faire we attended yesterday is a new faire, just finishing its first season. It’s a faire that I have been referring to as the “spite faire” ever since I learned of the plans to open it a year ago.

There were some people associated with my “home” faire who had a falling out with the faire owner. They were angry, bitter and disgruntled. One of them happens to own a large piece of land in a pretty good location, so they put their heads together and decided to start their own faire and to run it in direct competition with “my” faire. In fact some of them came right out and said that their goal was to put “my” faire out of business.

Now the reality is that if they had chosen to have their faire at a different time of year, I would have been thrilled to support them and promote them in any way I could. However, I have a huge problem with any enterprise that is founded out of motives of spite or revenge. I was further grieved when I discovered that several people whom I thought were loyal to the “old” faire had in fact defected to the “new” faire. And others, who claimed they were getting out of the renfaire business, were in fact also defecting to the new faire.

I was deeply dismayed when “my” faire was cancelled for this year, in part because the appearance was that it had surrendered without even putting up a fight. The reality was much more complicated, and involved business and land tax issues. So, suddenly the “new” faire had no competition at all, and I had no faire to go to. Last year I went virtually every weekend in the spring, and worked doing interviews and helping out at a booth.

This year I have had so much going on every weekend that it would have been difficult to get to the faire even once or twice, but I sure did miss it. I was also very curious about the new faire. I decided that it wouldn’t be disloyal for me to go check it out, seeing as “my” faire had been cancelled. I thought it would be a fun birthday excursion for Jasper, so we planned to go on Saturday, which was his birthday.

Then, of course, we found out that we would be spending Saturday at the bee farm, and that meant that if we were going to go at all, it would have to be yesterday (Sunday) because that was the very last day of the faire’s five-week run. So, we played hooky and went–Jasper, Lucy and me.

This faire is much closer and more convenient–only about a 20 minute drive away. Walking through the gate was more than a little surreal. Everywhere we looked, we saw familiar people and familiar booths. Our beloved “white tent” was there with its kindly proprietor.

4-26-15 white tent

As we walked through the heavily wooded area, we came upon booth after booth that we recognized. People we had gotten to know well over the last 12 years greeted us from their new locations, and almost all the performers we saw were familiar.

I wasn’t sure how to react. I was glad to see them, but at the same time it hurt to see them somewhere new. In most cases, I didn’t know which ones had defected out of spite and which ones had scrambled to find a new place to do business when they found out that the other faire had been cancelled. It was very unsettling.

However, even with all that emotional baggage, it was good to be at a faire. The faire (“my” faire) has always been my happy place. I enjoyed sitting and listening to a musical performance, while savoring the lovely outdoor setting. After a very stressful few months, I needed this little break. One of the things that had decided me on going was the fact that they had a bird of prey show, and that was definitely a highlight for all three of us.

This is a beautiful African augur:

4-26-15 open mouthed man & hawk

I love how both the man and the bird have their mouths open in this photo.

And the real star of the show, a European Eagle Owl:

4-26-15 European eagle owl

This particular owl is the very one used in the Harry Potter movies–which I’ve never seen. Gorgeous bird.

We had lunch at a table in a heavily wooded area. At “our” faire, the food was so-so and overpriced. At this faire, the food was also overpriced, but we ate at this Greek place:

 4-26-15 greek food

And it was fabulous.

Since no one had offered us a program or schedule, it was a little frustrating trying to figure out what to do and where to go. We knew that we wanted to see a joust, and it looked like one was imminent, what with a fanfare being blown and all. There was no seating near the arena–none whatever. I was glad to have my chair, but the bars on the fence were placed in such a way that if I sat down, I would see nothing!

As it turns out, the joust was canceled, apparently due to a horse injury. I was disappointed. I was very curious to see how the horses handled jousting on such a short field with almost no turnaround space on the ends.

We found a shady place to sit down, and figured we would just wait to see who showed up to perform. Jasper asked permission to check out some booths we hadn’t been to yet, and I let him go. Moments later he was back, saying he had seen our friend Elliot. Neither Lucy nor I believed him, because we both thought that Elliot was working another faire near Dallas. Lucy finally agreed to go with Jasper, just to make sure, so off they went.

Minutes later I got a text from Lucy saying “It’s him.” She didn’t say where they were, so that’s what got me going in search of my kids. Which led to my fall. Which led to my showing up at Elliot’s booth looking very disheveled, and the kids asking me, “Why are you covered with leaves and sawdust?”

Since I was in dire need of a sit-down by that time, I set up my chair and sat down and we stayed for quite a while visiting with Elliot when he didn’t have customers.

4-26-15 Jasper and Elliot

That was the most “normal” part of the day for all of us, I think. By the time I was recovered enough to walk, we decided to just head home.

So what was my honest evaluation of this new faire, all feelings aside? Well, it’s pretty fantastic for a first-year faire. They had some great performers, most of whom I knew. Everything we saw was family friendly, although they did have a mead stand. They have a pond and a stream and lots of shade (and mosquitos).

4-26-15 stream

They have more and tastier food options. They are quite inexpensive, as faires go–$12. They really need some seating for the joust, which I can’t comment on because they didn’t have one yesterday. They ought to have a blacksmith, in my opinion. Hopefully they will also get some real bathrooms. They had porta-potties but nowhere to wash your hands or refill your water bottle without paying an arm and a leg.

I loved the bird of prey show. The big faire we went to in Houston had one, but it was so huge we couldn’t get close enough to even see the birds. This time we were part of an audience of maybe 20 people. So much better. Parking is limited, which will keep this faire from growing if they can’t find more parking space. It was almost full by the time we left yesterday.

So, I’m not sorry I went, but I still can’t come to grips with how I feel about the whole thing. Also, I’ve been designing my own faire in my head all day.

And yes, I am sore–but also very thankful I’m not hurt worse.

Faith is the Victory

Faith is the Victory

John H. Yates

Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise.
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled.
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.

Refrain

Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory, that overcomes the world.

His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God.
We tread the road the saints above
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath,
Swept on o’er every field.
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield.

Refrain

On every hand the foe we find
Drawn up in dread array.
Let tents of ease be left behind,
And onward to the fray.
Salvation’s helmet on each head,
With truth all girt about,
The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread,
And echo with our shout.

Refrain

To him that overcomes the foe,
White raiment shall be giv’n.
Before the angels he shall know
His name confessed in Heav’n.
Then onward from the hill of light,
Our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night,
In Jesus’ conqu’ring Name.

Refrain

Ephesians 6:10-18  New International Version (NIV)

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God,so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvationand the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

 

Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall–And No One Laughed

Okay, I know I normally don’t blog on Sunday, and this isn’t a real blog. It’s just an observation, really. Today, I was at a Renaissance Faire, and the ground was very soft and uneven, and somehow I missed my footing and I fell. (I know it sounds like a lame excuse, but that’s better than just admitting I’m a total klutz.)

It was rather spectacular. When someone my size falls, there’s no such thing as a “little” fall. I was in search of my children, and I was carrying my chair over one shoulder, my bag over the other shoulder, with my (nice) camera around my neck and my umbrella in my hand. It was one of those slow-motion experiences when you realize you are starting to fall, and you try desperately to regain your footing, all the while knowing it’s a lost cause, and then SLAM! You fall flat on your face, on top of your camera and your bag containing your cell phone.

Lots of people saw me fall. It was so humiliating. But here’s the thing that I can’t get over. Even before I actually hit the ground, people were running to help me.  Before I caught my breath, I had three concerned people hovering over me, asking me if I was all right, helping me to my feet, telling me to stop and calm down before trying to walk anywhere. They were full of concern.

This is, as far as I can remember, the third time in the last 20 years that I’ve had a bad fall in front of an audience. (There was a prizewinning fall that no one saw, thank goodness.) Each time, bystanders rushed to my aid. Each time they showed nothing but concern and kindness. Each time, not a single person laughed or made fun of me.

After all these years, I still expect the ridicule, and am so deeply grateful to be met with concern instead. I loved growing up in central Africa, but one of the drawbacks was that whenever someone fell down, even if they injured themselves, everyone stood around laughing hysterically and mocking the unfortunate person who fell. No one offered to help. I’m not sure what the cultural reason for this was, but I grew up absolutely terrified of tripping and falling because let’s face it, that by itself is embarrassing enough without getting jeered at as well.

I was shaking for well over an hour after my fall, but the consequences appear to be relatively minor. Despite the fact that I fell on my camera, the ground was soft and the camera appears to still be functional. (That was the thing I was really worried about.) My cell phone also appears to be operational. My body is going to be sore. My knees, one ankle and my chest and shoulders are all banged up. But, nothing is broken. It could have been so much worse!

In Which Someone Has a Birthday, Someone Runs a Half-Marathon, Some Ladies Arrive, and Someone Has a Meltdown and Lets a Thirteen-Year-Old Kid Drive Her Car

Yep. It’s been one of those days. Today is Jasper’s 14th birthday, and instead of celebrating by going to a Renaissance Faire, we had to get up early to go learn more about bees before bringing a hive home. Early as we were up, Mary was up earlier preparing for and then running her first half marathon! She did well and we are so proud of her! Here is a photo she posted after the race:

 4-25-15 Mary after half marathon

So anyway, Jasper and I took off for the bee farm, and I realized I had lost the directions and couldn’t remember how to get there. I pulled over at a gas station and called Dick, the guy whose place it is, and he gave me directions. The only problem was that he told me to turn left on “25” and when we found “25,” it only went right. So I made things much worse by trying to find the route with my GPS.

It was bad. The GPS was royally confused and kept telling us to turn onto the north side of the highway instead of the south. Here it was Jasper’s birthday, and I’m totally failing to get him to his bee class. I was so stressed. There were tears. Finally, after driving around for more than an hour, we found one of the roads we needed. (It turned out that “25” was actually “21.”)We still drove several miles on it the wrong way before turning around, but once we were going in the right direction we found our destination without further incident, unless you call my being a complete basket case an incident.

Since we got there an hour late, Jasper missed getting to watch the others in their bee suits doing stuff with the hives. In fact we had to walk through clouds of angry bees to the shed where we assumed that Jasper would get some further instruction. Amazingly, we did not get stung, despite the fact that we were both wearing dark clothing (a beekeeping no-no).

We waited for an hour or so before Dick was able to pay some attention to Jasper. He instructed another boy to show Jasper how to make frames and boxes for hives, so he’d be able to make his own in the future. This boy Gabe is, in my eyes, the hero of the day. He has red hair and freckles and is unfailingly polite and helpful. He patiently helped Jasper construct multiple frames and boxes. Jasper learned how to operate a staple gun and a nail gun.

By noon, everyone had gone for lunch except for Gabe and Jasper and me. Gabe had brought a sack lunch, but we had not. Since Jasper was having such a good time learning to build stuff, I offered to go get us some lunch. The air between me and the Suburban was full of thousands of angry bees. Thousands and thousands. Since I hadn’t been stung on the way in, I figured I’d just hope for good luck again on the way out, but I was dreading it.

Then Gabe spoke up. “Do you want me to go get your car for you? I can drive it right up to the shed and you can get in without having to go through all the bees.”

“How old are you?” I asked. I mean, he sure didn’t look 16.

“Thirteen,” he said proudly. “But I can drive anything, even if it has a manual transmission.”

At that moment, letting a thirteen-year-old drive my car seemed a lot more appealing than running the bee gauntlet, so I tossed him my keys.  He did a great job of driving the car up to the shed. After that I still had to back it out between the rows of hives, with the windows shut in the stifling heat, but I managed it without destroying anything.

I had to drive a LONG way to get food, but Jasper was happy to get it! I noticed that Gabe refrained from eating his own lunch until Jasper also had something to eat. Someone is raising that boy right.

Eventually, everyone else returned, and it was time to think about getting our hive. The snag was that Jasper’s bee suit had not arrived. He borrowed Gabe’s and helped load the hive into the back of the Suburban.

This is not a brand new hive, as I had expected. Dick gave Jasper a fully functional hive that is well-established. I realized at that point why everyone else was driving pickup trucks. We had to drive almost an hour to get home with a hive full of bees in the car with us. Please tell me it was brave of me to do that. It was actually pretty terrifying.

Once we got home, it turned out the hive was too heavy for Jasper to carry back to the stand that Walter had made for it. Walter and Lucy had carry it back there with nothing but vinegar for protection. Believe it or not, no one got stung. We had a day full of bees and no one got stung. Now we have a hive full of ladies in our back yard.

4-25-15 new hive

I really should have gone out grocery shopping tonight, but the last couple of days have been very exhausting and I just don’t want to go back out. Instead I’m staying in to watch a movie with the birthday boy, since Walter has to work and everyone else has abandoned us too.

Parting Shot

Jasper a few years ago:

Jasper with paper airplanes

Jasper a few weeks ago:

3-7-15 Jasper in castle ruins

A Bittersweet Day

I hardly know where to start with today. We got up and started getting ready to go to Dallas. After moving to Colorado, Flynn admitted that he had actually left a bunch of stuff in his old apartment in Dallas, and that we would need to clear it out and clean it up before the lease ran out. So, he mailed us the key, and this morning we hitched up our small white trailer and set off for Dallas.

The first part was the fun part. We went to one of our favorite Indian grocery stores and I picked up most of the spices I need for chai mix, and a few other odds and ends. By then it was lunch time, and one of our favorite Indian restaurants was just up the road, so we stopped there for a fabulous lunch. Then we stopped at a second Indian store to get the last thing I needed before heading to Flynn’s apartment.

Flynn had rather understated the amount of stuff left behind, and the amount of cleaning needed to leave his apartment in good shape. We started emptying cupboards and packing boxes. I had hoped to find time to visit my aunt, but it didn’t seem possible with so much work to do. However, once we had most of the boxes packed, Walter suggested that Lucy and I go to visit my aunt while he and Jasper stayed behind to clean. The trailer had already been unhitched in order to fit in the parking lot, so Lucy and I took off.

It was an incredibly stressful drive. My phone’s GPS was more than a little confused, and it took us over an hour and a half through rush hour traffic to finally get to the nursing home. By then, my aunt was already sitting at a table waiting for her supper. I was able to visit with her for a few minutes, and this time she was able to respond to things I said to her.

We drove back through a massive thunderstorm. When we stopped to pick up some supper, we both got soaked to the skin. We ate supper in the bare apartment, waiting for the storm to blow past. It was pretty sad sitting there in Flynn’s apartment with no Flynn. The last few things were loaded and then Walter vacuumed everything one more time before loading the vacuum cleaner. We finally left a little after 9:00.

It was a long, wet drive home and when we finally got here, we found that little mouse Claudia Threefoot had died during our absence.

 Claudia 4

She was very old for a mouse–over two years old. She was pretty alert and active right up to the end. Last night when I fed her was the first time ever that she seemed a little frail to me. She was a sweet mouse and we will miss her.

Parting Shot:

 4-24-15 sky

The evening sky after the storm blew through.