Schoolwork & A Book Signing

I was so thrilled to have a day where I was home and could work on schoolwork all day, but it didn’t quite turn out as anticipated. I spent the morning organizing my Geography notebook. Walter started working on the roof of the house (the overhanging part). That work has to be done before the end of the month if we are to keep our home insurance.

After lunch I had a visitor who had arranged to stop by—a complete stranger. He had started reading my memoir, had purchased copies for his three siblings also, and wanted me to autograph all four books. He and his siblings also grew up in Zambia and had gone to Sakeji, but it was after my time. So anyway, we ended up talking for close to five hours. Not only had we gone to the same two boarding schools in Africa, but our parents were in the same mission so we had a lot of mutual acquaintance. I think I met his parents once when we lived in the Zambia in the early 90s.

Needless to say, I didn’t get much grading done! One of the things we talked about was the Sakeji hymn, which sparks such an emotional response in anyone who has attended there. So this evening I pulled out my autoharp for the first time in months and played through the hymn. Somehow I’ve got to figure out how to find time to play some more . . .

I also cooked some chicken and started a new knitting project today when taking a quick break from school. We are into the time of year where I am working on projects I can’t show you!

Shopping & Knitting

This morning, like almost every Friday morning, was grocery shopping time. I am kind of relieved that Aldi has not yet been overrun with Christmas merchandise—but I know it’s coming soon! And what a relief to know that we would have enough fridge space for everything!

Jasper helped put away the food and I attended a webinar that showed me some amazing features of Scrivener (my writing software) that I hadn’t known about. Now if only I could remember how to do all that stuff!

Then a homeschool friend came over for a knitting lesson and learned about the importance of gauge. We had to rip out a project and start over as it was just too big.

I did make it to the gym for a walk and then waited in line for close to 40 minutes just to pick up some pizza for the family. And I still had to go to Walmart to pick up some items that Aldi hadn’t had.

Lucy made some apple pastries for dessert and Tanner came over to enjoy them too. I am looking forward to a weekend at home with my toppling stack of papers waiting to be graded.

Parting Shot:

Well, this is actually a video of a game whose existence I didn’t know about until a couple of days ago. Pato is an Argentinian game that seems to be a cross between polo and basketball, with a little tug-of-war thrown in for good measure. Amazing!

About Yesterday

So sorry for last night’s silence. My computer froze up for hours and I couldn’t “unfreeze” it without losing a lot of work. After restarting it this morning (I couldn’t even do that last night) it seems to be doing better.

Yesterday, like every Thursday, was a rather frenzied “getting ready for Geography” day. Although the students take turns in making food to share, I always have plenty of cooking to do as well. Yesterday was our last day in South America, so we had quite a feast: Chilean pork empanadas, Chilean quinoa salad, fried plantains (because everybody really likes them), Brazilian cheese bread (the crack cocaine of the bread world), Brazilian lemonade, and Brazilian brigadeiros.

I had some complaints about how sweet the brigadeiros were—but a rather stunning number got eaten! The designated chef made the empanadas and salad, but I still had to make the GF empanadas and everything else. So it was a very busy morning and I was thankful for Jasper’s help! (Note: the empanadas in the photo were the very clumsy-looking GF ones. The “real” ones were much prettier!)

I had arranged for a Brazilian friend from church to share with us about her homeland, but she ended up having a schedule conflict, so we set up a Skype session instead, only to have a problem in that we could see her but not hear her! So I put her on speakerphone and as she talked we looked at the document and photos she had sent me. It actually worked pretty well!

Now everyone in the class wants to go to the Caribbean AND South America. I am doing my job!

After class ended, Walter came home and hitched the trailer to the van and he and Jasper and I drove to Kilgore. For several months now I have been hoping to find an inexpensive fridge to replace our auxiliary fridge which died. We have missed having cold water to drink but there simply hasn’t been room in the fridge for any beverage except milk. I had just been realizing that I really ought to start hanging out on Craig’s List to see if I could find anything, and then my friend Desirée contacted me saying she had a fridge she needed to get rid of, and she had remembered that I needed one. What an unexpected blessing!

So we met her at her storage unit and Walter and Jasper manhandled that big heavy fridge onto the trailer and got it all strapped down. Last night they spent quite a while getting it into the house. Two doors had to be removed from their hinges but they finally got it in! Last night I put ice cube trays in the freezer and big pitchers of water in the fridge. When I checked this morning, the ice was frozen and the water was cold. Hallelujah! I will be able to do some cooking ahead for the holidays.

The rest of the evening was pretty frustrating due to my computer issues, but I did get some reading done for next week’s classes.

Exchange between Lucy and me yesterday afternoon:

Her: “Three years ago I was in Bolivia.”

Me: “One month ago I was in Scotland.”

Both: sigh


Today was a day in which I worked all day but don’t have a lot to show for it. I worked on school stuff. I tutored a student. I did a bunch of advance prep work and cooking for tomorrow’s geography class. It’s going to be great.

So Many Books

The last few days have seemed like a reading marathon as I have struggled to keep up in all four books I’m reading (3 for classes and 1 for book club). As of today, I am caught up! But of course I have plenty of reading to do by this time next week . . .

This morning I had my elementary English class and the kids did a great job reciting their memory poems for me. After they left, I had half an hour to get ready for the blond brothers, who normally come on Wednesdays, but this week they had a schedule conflict. So that was almost five hours of teaching and then I had half an hour to get ready to leave for book club.

By the time I left for book club, we were in the middle of a deafening thunderstorm and torrential rains. I was held up on the way by a multi-car accident on the highway, including a pickup truck that was burning like a bonfire. Emergency vehicles had not yet arrived. I really hope whoever was in that truck got out in time.

It was good to be back with my book club buddies even though I struggled quite a bit with this month’s book, due to the amount of American football in it. The lady who brings the snacks outdid herself this time, bringing Italian food including prosciutto and parmesan cheese, rolls and gelato (the book is set in Parma, Italy). I could eat the meat and cheese—in fact I think it’s the first time they’ve had anything I could eat. But I have to admit it was hard to watch everyone else rave about the gelato!

By the time I drove home the rain was much less intense. I changed and went to the gym, only to discover that a volleyball game was in progress, and the track is not supposed to be in use during actual games, so instead I went to Walmart and picked up a couple items we needed.

This evening I actually had time to watch a video with my husband—a little lull before getting back to my backlog of class work.

In Which I Learn Things, Make Things, and Solve a Mystery

As you may remember, last year’s Writers in the Field was an epic mudfest, complete with tornado warning. This year we had glorious weather. I picked my friend Barbara up early on Saturday morning and we headed west, with a stop at Buc-ee’s so she could buy breakfast and experience Buc-ee’s, and so I could retrieve my perfectly-cooked omelet from my thermos.

We arrived at the venue a few minutes before classes started, so had time to get our badges and orient ourselves. One of the first people I saw was my friend Amber, another critique group member who had also come for her first experience with Writers in the Field and would be sharing a hotel room with me.

The day passed in a succession of classes. The one I most wanted to participate in was a leather journal-making class, but it was already full. I was relieved to find that it would be offered again on Sunday and I immediately got my name on the list! Instead I went to classes on starting a video channel and the future of spaceflight, and then it was my turn to volunteer at the registration desk. Since I also did this last year, it is now a tradition!

My two hours volunteering passed pleasantly, and then I moved on to an alternative energy class—always a popular topic with me. Following that, I eagerly showed up at the Tandy Leather booth to make a drawstring pouch that I thought would be a good visual aid for one of my classes.

One of the things I like to say about myself is that I “never met a craft I didn’t like.” So this weekend was my first real introduction to leather crafting. I liked it. And Jeff, the Tandy representative, was such a gentleman. I love my little drawstring pouch. And when I heard that he would be offering another leather journal class on Sunday, I added that to my schedule. He provided all the materials for free!

Having finished my pouch, I went to a class on author branding, and finished up with a survival demonstration of fire-making in the wild. I consider myself pretty adept at starting fires, but I still picked up a few pointers.

Barbara and Amber and I met up and drove to our hotel and got checked in before heading to a nearby Chinese restaurant for supper. After our long day outdoors, everyone was tired, so there was no partying that evening. Amber fell asleep reading and I stayed up a little later because I had a LOT of reading to do. From now until May I will be reading at least four books a month, and I am finding it hard to keep up. And I had planned to do some work on my computer but I couldn’t find the mouse I knew I had packed and in the end I never even took my computer out of its case.

On Sunday morning I think I entertained Amber with my tea-making routine. I made a big mug of tea to have for breakfast and then made a thermos full of tea to save for the afternoon. The three of us met in the hotel dining room for breakfast and then drove back to the venue for another day of classes. I was all about the leather crafting yesterday! I started the day making my leather journal at the Tandy booth. Jeff had at least a hundred different leather stamps we could use, and stains for coloring the leather afterward. I had a lot of fun experimenting.

Later, I joined the bookbinder for the handsewn leather journal class, where we learned to sew and bind a little journal. That journal used a much softer leather since we had to sew through it. The whole process was quite time consuming, but I greatly enjoyed it. Then Jeff was offering a belt-making workshop, and I couldn’t resist! I don’t even wear belts at all, but Jasper always seems to be in need of them, so I made one for him. I didn’t have time to make it fancy, but it’s very sturdy.

Other classes I took were on toxic plants and wildlife, lost-proofing yourself in the wilderness, Antiques Road Show of the Tudor Court, and Victorian Ladies’ Needlework.

By Sunday afternoon I had amassed the following loot:

1 belt, 1 fringed leather pouch, and 2 journals. The brown one has removable inserts and the black one is actually sewn to the leather. I am still working on a closure for that one.

Barbara and I drove east as the sun set behind us and the glorious pearly-white full moon rose in front of us. Watching the moon rise is one of my favorite things about driving home from Dallas in the evening.

I felt very stressed and pressured when I arrived home, though, because I had a LOT of class work to do and I couldn’t find my computer mouse! I completely unpacked my suitcase and no mouse was to be found. I KNEW I had put it in there, but it had somehow vanished. I cannot work fast enough without it, so I had to make a late-night run to Walmart to buy a new mouse.

I was up late and up early to do more class prep and take Sammy to school before my class started. After class I had a doctor’s appointment which went well. Hopefully I’ll get my lab results tomorrow, but the doctor was thrilled with my progress since the last time she saw me a year and a half ago.

When Jasper got off work, he wanted to go to the battery store on the north side of town to replace his watch battery. By then it was raining steadily and I didn’t want to have to take off my socks, so I went to put on my clogs. The clogs that I took to Dallas for the weekend but never wore. Can you guess what I found in one of my shoes? Go ahead and guess.

I picked up one of my clogs to put it on and my computer mouse fell out of it. I have no idea how it got in there, but I had a good laugh about it. Now I have two computer mice.

Jasper and I both had watch batteries replaced and then after taking him home I went for my walk in the gym. I was glad to have a dry place to walk! I have spent the evening reading and preparing for my classes and for my book club meeting which is tomorrow.

Parting Shot:

Some lovely beaded Victorian “Berlin Work” from the Victorian Needlework display.

Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched

I confess that what I have always loved most about this hymn is the tune—the Welsh tune Bryn Calfaria by William Owen. So majestic and glorious.

Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched

Joseph Hart

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity joined with power;
He is able, He is able, He is able,
He is willing, doubt no more;
He is willing, doubt no more.

Come, ye needy, come, and welcome;
God’s free bounty glorify:
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings us nigh;
Without money, without money, without money,
Come to Jesus Christ and buy;
Come to Jesus Christ and buy.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you, This He gives you, This He gives you,
’Tis the Spirit’s rising beam,
’Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and mangled by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all;
Not the righteous, not the righteous, not the righteous,
Sinners Jesus came to call;
Sinners Jesus came to call.

View Him groveling in the garden;
Lo! Your maker prostrate lies!
On the bloody tree behold Him,
Hear Him cry before He dies;
It is finished! It is finished! It is finished!
Sinners, will not this suffice,
Sinners, will not this suffice?

Lo! th’incarnate God, ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood;
Venture on Him, venture wholly;
Let no other trust intrude;
None but Jesus, none but Jesus, none but Jesus,
Can do helpless sinners good;
Can do helpless sinners good.

Saints and angels joined in concert,
Sing the praises of the Lamb;
While the blissful seats of Heaven
Sweetly echo with His name.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!
Sinners here may sing the same,
Sinners here may sing the same.

Gearing Up

Good news! My dad is home! He is still waiting on some test results, and is on some new meds, but he’s back home with my mom, which means I can stick to my plan of visiting them later this month.

All the phone calls back and forth this morning meant that I was a little late with my grocery shopping, but I still got it done.

I experienced another failure in trying to pay for my new CD. My credit union can’t do international bank transfers, as I discovered yesterday, but they told me they thought the post office could do an international money order. I looked it up online, and the post office does indeed do international money orders—but not, it turns out, to the UK (or Canada). So I will just have to write a regular check in dollars and send it via snail mail to the choir. With a note begging them to get a PayPal account!

This evening I went to my writers’ group meeting (not the one I lead). The speaker was a journalist whose talk made me a little nostalgic for the long-ago days when I edited our college newspaper. It all sounded so familiar.

I am trying to pack and get ready for Writers in the Field, which starts tomorrow. I have to leave early in the morning, pick up one of my writer friends on the way, and try to get there before all the fun starts at 10:00. There are no thunderstorms or tornados in the forecast this year! It’s going to be amazing.

The Return of the Toe Basket

Jasper and I were very busy this morning cooking for Geography class. I started off making the dough for the dessert, as it needed to rise. Then Jasper helped me with all the cutting-up of stuff for the Colombian stew. Then we both made arepas—he the “normal” ones and I the keto ones. Somewhere in there I also got the dessert assembled and in the oven and the rice made.

We have moved on to South America now, so when the other gentlemen arrived we watched a video on Venezuela and Colombia while eating our delicious lunch. We also had a quiz over North America and the Caribbean before going on to learn more about South America. The time always seems to go so quickly!

After the other boys left, Jasper finally sat down and soaked his feet. We have a situation going on with his toe. He waited until he had a severely ingrown and infected toenail before mentioning it to me. It may already be too late to stave off medical intervention, but we are going to try. Toenail woes are all too common in our family. Many have suffered, but Flynn most of all. He endured three years of misery and many painful procedures before finally getting both big toenails removed permanently. In those days I kept a “toe basket” in the bathroom with all the supplies I needed for medicating and bandaging his toes. It was pressed into service again for Spencer and Lucy, but has languished in obscurity for several years now.

Until today, obviously. One of my jobs tomorrow is to buy all the supplies I need to replenish the toe basket. Jasper will be soaking his feet daily and keeping a medicated dressing on the toe in hopes that we will see some improvement.

In other news, my dad is spending the night in the hospital after experiencing several hours of chest pain last night and this morning. Pray that the cause of the pain will be found and that he’ll be able to go home tomorrow as planned.

A Goodbye and New Music

This morning we had to say goodbye to Jeff and Rose as they continued on their trip. I hope it won’t be another seven years before we see them again!

Meanwhile, I had tutoring students to prepare for. The blond brothers were as always a pleasure to work with.

And this evening, I finally got to listen to my new CD! Remember when I was in Rochester Cathedral and I happened to be treated to a concert by a male voice choir? Well, after several emails with the director, I received their CD in the mail a couple of days ago but haven’t had time to listen to it until now. Several of the songs on the CD are songs I heard them sing live. What a treat that was!

But anyway, I have a dilemma now. I have received the CD and it came with an invoice—but I can’t figure out how to pay. I was hoping they could accept PayPal payments but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I will have to go to my credit union and see if an international bank transfer is possible.

Clearly, this choir needs someone who knows something (anything!) about marketing. They didn’t have any CDs for sale when they performed in the cathedral. I bet they could have sold quite a few! And they don’t have a convenient system set up for those like me who are willing to go through the cumbersome process of ordering a CD and need to pay for their purchase! Surely one of those guys has a wife that could set something up for them . . . it really is a good choir!

Tomorrow is geography day and it’s our turn to cook. I guess I’d better get rested up.