It’s That Pollen Time of Year

It rained pollen last night. It must have been quite a downpour. When I went outside to run an errand this morning, the car was covered in a layer of yellowish-green pollen–which also explains why I’ve been feeling so poorly the last couple of days. Anyway, I got in the car and turned on the wipers to remove the pollen. About 30 seconds later, as I pulled out of the driveway, it started misting and the dry pollen on the windscreen turned into a sticky sludge that made it very difficult to see where I was going. It was a good 10 minutes before enough drizzle had hit the windshield to clean that goop away. I hate spring so much.

The two main things on my mind today were my class and getting ready for Lucy’s garage sale. Two of my students were unable to make it today, so class felt very under-attended. Then right afterwards, Lucy found out that the garage sale is going to have to be postponed because her friend Emma is sick. Lucy had just finished making a big batch of mug-cakes to sell! We will see if we can sell them at the chai party, which we can now have this weekend since we won’t be having a garage sale!

Meanwhile, Flynn signed a lease for an apartment in Colorado and hopefully has his stuff moved in by now. He still has a few days to get settled in before he starts work on Monday, and Mary is there to help him too. Her trip was planned before Flynn knew how soon he’d be moving there!

Tomorrow, maybe I’ll get some sewing done on my own dresses for the orphanage in Africa!

Germany or Bust!

I thought I’d share this here since I know there are people who will be interested and who aren’t on Facebook. I believe I’ve mentioned that three of the four offspring who are currently living at home are planning to go on mission trips this summer. Today I am focusing on Lucy, since she is most limited in her efforts to raise money for her trip to Frankfurt, Germany this summer.

She and her friend Emma will be going for three weeks to work with a church in Frankfurt. They will be helping as needed with church programs but as yet the pastor hasn’t given them many details except that they might be involved in teaching conversational English. I know Lucy is hoping they will also have a chance to be involved with homeless and disadvantaged people, because that’s where her heart is.

One of the things the girls are doing to raise money is having a garage sale this weekend, so if you’re local and have anything to contribute, they’d be very grateful! The sale will be on Friday and Saturday.

Lucy has also designed a T-Shirt which she is selling as a fundraiser, but it only will be produced if there are enough orders.

 Germany shirt

You can check it out here:

https://www.booster.com/germany

We are getting shirts for our family because we are proud of our German heritage! Some of you may not know that Walter’s paternal grandparents were German missionaries to China. His dad, born and raised in China, came to seminary here in the USA and returned to Germany with his American wife, where they served as missionaries at a Bible School until their semi-retirement. Walter, obviously grew up in Germany and went through the German school system. So we are all thrilled that Lucy felt drawn to serve in Germany this summer.

She does have a site where people can contribute directly to her trip, and that link is here:  http://www.gofundme.com/oohgoo

She is also offering her services for odd jobs from cleaning to babysitting so she can earn more money for her trip. She doesn’t have transportation, but if you want to hire her I’m sure we can work something out!

Not Excelling

Several years ago now, I knew a lady who was about the age that I am presently. One thing that she said repeatedly was that she didn’t want to participate in any activity that required her to learn a new skill. She figured she had enough skills to last her the rest of her life.

At the time, I thought it was funny. I couldn’t imagine the day would ever come when I would not want to learn a new skill.

Today: “Oh, hello, Day when I do not want to learn a new skill!”

The fact is that I had to learn not one but three new skills in order to do what I had committed myself to do this evening. Several months ago, I rashly mentioned to our writers’ group leader that I had attended a class at Realm Makers featuring a method of evaluating fiction that I thought was very helpful. She in turn asked me to give a presentation on it at this month’s meeting (tonight).

The first thing I had to do was get permission from the originator of the material. That was easy. I already had that skill.

Then I had to learn how to create a graph using Excel. It was a little scary, but there is plenty of help on the internet and I at least was able to create something that could pass for a graph from a distance if need be, and ta da! I had a new skill.

Recently (like maybe Sunday or yesterday) I realized that I should probably use Power Point to present the material. The only problem was that I have successfully avoided learning anything at all about Power Point for as long as Power Point has been in existence. And suddenly, here I was being forced to learn something! Again, Google was my friend. I hate to brag, but I actually created a 36-slide Power Point presentation on my first try. I had yet another new skill, and I was pretty smug about it.

I asked to borrow our church’s projector so I could present my Power Point slideshow at the meeting tonight, and a fine young man dropped it off at my house yesterday. That’s when I realized that I had no idea how to operate the projector and hook it up to my computer and all that stuff. I’ll admit, at that point I felt a little beleaguered. I was tired of learning stuff.

Then there was the whole part where my grandiose plans of having multiple examples to show fell through because I just did not have time.

Walter showed me how to operate the projector on his lunch break today and I worked on my presentation until about 10 minutes before I had to leave for the library. I got there and the room was empty, but to my delight the screen was down and the library’s projector was already set up so I didn’t even have to use the one I had brought!

Vickie is sick and was unable to come, so Bill came and he called in a library employee to show us how to turn on the lights, and I asked her to show me how to work the projector and it was actually pretty easy.

For a long time Bill and I just sat there. Then Barbara came. I was thinking it was a big mistake to print 15 copies of the handout I had created. Eventually I think we had 12 people.

I totally botched the presentation. I don’t know what got into me. I talked too fast, I didn’t say all the clever things I had planned to say, and I rushed through everything. I was afraid it would take too long to go through 36 slides. Not with me at the wheel! I zoomed through in something ridiculous like 20 minutes. Everybody got to go home early, even though Bill stalled for me both before and after I spoke! I have no idea if anyone cared at all about my topic or if they were just being very polite.

There’s a really good reason why I don’t take myself too seriously. You can’t take yourself too seriously if you keep humiliating yourself in public.  I handle it a lot better than I used to. After all, I worked really, really hard on this presentation. I got the information out there even if I did it poorly. Tomorrow I’ll have a ton of other stuff to do, so there’s no point in beating myself up over what happened tonight!

Oh, I guess I should mention the good thing that happened. The one example that I actually got done was using Edgar Allen Poe’s masterful short story, “The Cask of Amontillado.” No one else in the room was familiar with it. I’m pretty sure that several of them went home determined to find it and read it. Yay me.

Oops!

I didn’t post last night because I actually forgot. And it’s a pity too, because yesterday contained three significant events, which I am recording here for future reference, because this blog is our primary repository of information.

The first thing that happened is that Flynn completed his epic journey to Colorado Springs, driving a U-Haul and pulling his car. He is staying with a friend while apartment hunting. Please pray that he finds a place soon because he wants to settle in before he starts his new job on Monday.

The second thing that happened is that a guy from AT&T actually showed up and actually found the break in our phone line and actually fixed it. So, we have phone service again for the first time in nearly a month!

The third thing was that Walter went to pick up our new fridge, got it home, and discovered that it would not fit through the kitchen door! He ended up having to remove the fridge doors and then Lucy and Jasper helped him get it up the stairs and into the kitchen, where he reassembled it. It is bigger than our old fridge and seems to be keeping things pretty cold.

So, between that excitement and the fact that I was busy trying to prepare for a presentation I’m doing today, I forgot to blog.

O Happy Day

O Happy Day, That Fixed My Choice

Philip Doddridge

O happy day, that fixed my choice
On Thee, my Savior and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
And tell its raptures all abroad.

Refrain

Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away!
He taught me how to watch and pray, and live rejoicing every day
Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away.

O happy bond, that seals my vows
To Him Who merits all my love!
Let cheerful anthems fill His house,
While to that sacred shrine I move.

Refrain

’Tis done: the great transaction’s done!
I am the Lord’s and He is mine;
He drew me, and I followed on;
Charmed to confess the voice divine.

Refrain

Now rest, my long divided heart,
Fixed on this blissful center, rest.
Here have I found a nobler part;
Here heavenly pleasures fill my breast.

Refrain

High heaven, that heard the solemn vow,
That vow renewed shall daily hear,
Till in life’s latest hour I bow
And bless in death a bond so dear.

Refrain

 

A Bee Class Museum New Fridge RAINY Kind of Day

Today had an interesting start. Jasper and I were up at 6:00, getting ready and eating breakfast before leaving for his bee keeping class. The only problem (and it was a big problem) was that we didn’t know where the class was. Last week, I had emailed the man who teaches it and asked for directions, but since the class was canceled he never sent the directions. Yesterday, I asked again, but I had still not received an answer by 7:00 this morning, and I knew we had to just leave, in faith believing that either the man would text or email me, or that I’d be able to get him on the phone at some point.

When we were about halfway to the town that I knew the man lived near, I pulled over and called him. He gave me directions and I followed them through a very rural area and we ended up at the right place at the right time. The class was in a shed, so I walked up with Jasper and got him situated. I had intended on sitting there with him, but the shed appeared to be full of adult students, so I slunk back to the car and rested for a while. It was raining steadily and had been all morning. When I saw action around the shed, I got out to see what was going on, only to find that I really should have stayed. Oh well.

The exciting part was that everyone was getting at least some of their bee equipment. Jasper got a super with 10 frames and now we need to paint the outside. He also got gloves, a smoker, and a hive tool. At the next class he will get bees! Yikes! We have a lot to do and get ready for before then.

While he was in the class. I was checking Facebook on my phone (as one does) and I saw that our blacksmith friend would be demonstrating at a museum today. This is the smith whom we normally see every spring weekend at the faire, but of course there is no faire this year. The museum in question is one that I’ve known about and wanted to go to for years, and we were more than halfway there.

When the bee class ended before lunch, I decided that Jasper and I would have a lunch and museum date. We had a nice lunch and then drove to the museum in the steady downpour. From the road, the museum doesn’t look like much–two or three buildings maybe, and they seem to be themed on farm machinery. Well, it turned out there were quite a few buildings.

We made a beeline for the blacksmith shed and stood with our umbrella’s in the pouring rain watching Shadowhawk and his female apprentices work the forges.

3-21-15 Shadowhawk at mill

Then we wandered around from building to building. Because of my arthritis, we didn’t get to all of them, but we did see a barn full of horse paraphernalia.

3-21-15 saddles

There was also a lovely little chapel with a bell you can ring for peace.

3-21-15 chapel

Inside the chapel was a relative of the autoharp, a “mandolin harp” from 1900.

3-21-15 Mandolin harp

We went through a couple more buildings before finally going to the “main” building that we were supposed to go through first. There were rooms full of laundry equipment, kitchen supplies and then . . . my heart skipped a beat. The next room was all musical instruments, mostly of the folk variety and many, many of them were antique zithers and autoharp precursors.

3-21-15 more instruments

3-21-15 stringed instruments

I wish I had been able to get closer to them! And afterwards I had a nice little chat with the docents about folk music and instruments. For a moment there they thought I was a famous autoharpist, but I soon set them straight. I think they must have heard of my teacher!

Anyway, it was a fascinating visit and I can’t wait to take the whole family back when the weather is nice. My only criticism of the museum is that there is very little labeling or explanation of what things are and how they are used. I have no idea if we guessed correctly on some of those things!

While all this was going on, Flynn and his two buddies were busy loading his U-Haul truck without our help. He ended up deciding not to leave for Colorado until tomorrow morning.

After supper Walter and I went refrigerator shopping after doing plenty of research online in the last week. The poor salesman found himself stuck with a couple who did not want anything fancy. No stainless steel, no “French doors,” not even an icemaker! We also didn’t want to pay for delivery, so Walter will be picking it up himself with our trailer on Monday. It will be nice to have our first new refrigerator. I really hope it lasts a long time.

Parting Shot:

 3-21-15 zither

One of the prettier instruments at the museum.

 

 

 

In Which I am an Old Sew and Sew

Today was a long but good day. I got up early, took a shower, had breakfast, and set off for my friend Angela’s house, with a stop to get gas on the way. There was a lot of on-again off-again raining as I drove the 40 minutes to get there. Angela was waiting for me, so we were soon on the road again.

We stopped at the house to pick up Jasper and load up my iron and ironing board and a lot of other sewing-related stuff. Then it was off to the extension office to help my friend Tammie set up for our big 4-H sewing day to make dresses for an orphanage in Zambia. I had asked Angela to help because I knew I would have to be away for a while and I wanted to make sure there were at least two competent seamstresses there at all times. Jasper came with us because he wanted to sew a pair of shorts for an African boy.

We had 5 sewing machines, 3 rotary cutting mats, 2 irons, and 2 ironing boards. We had patterns, fabric, thread, scissors and pins. A mother and daughter arrived almost as soon as we set up, and I got them busy cutting out a dress. More people came. Angela helped Jasper cut out some shorts and I sat with him and got him going on the sewing.

3-20-15 Jasper sewing

We had a quick lunch and then Jasper and I had to leave and pick up Lucy so we could go to the regular teen get-together, which I had been signed up to help chaperone. I stayed for half of it, but I felt so bad leaving the sewing party that I asked permission to leave and go back. Jasper didn’t want to get stuck there all afternoon, so I dropped him off at the house, with the understanding that he will finish his shorts at home.

The afternoon was very busy, as we had an influx of girls wanting to sew after school. One girl in particular cracked me up. She was rather young to do any serious sewing, but that didn’t stop her from commandeering a machine and whipping up something with a scrap of fabric. She talked to herself constantly. She resisted all efforts to steer her in the direction of actual productivity. She just cheerfully did her own thing.

3-20-15 row of sewers

I’m not sure how many dresses were finished. There are certainly several that are almost done, and I can easily finish them myself. I am so thankful for everyone who came out and worked to get some dresses made. Angela says she thinks that three of the girls who came today left with a new interest in sewing–a wonderful bonus!

3-20-15 Tammie & friend

3-20-15 Angela and friend

By the time 6:00 rolled around, we were pretty exhausted and ready to pack up and come home. Angela stayed for supper and we finally got a chance to visit a little bit before her husband came to pick her up. I’m so glad she came today. Her help was invaluable, and I was also thrilled just to get to see her!

Tomorrow promises to be another exhausting day. And Flynn is moving without our help–I have a previous commitment for tomorrow and were weren’t able to borrow a car for the rest of the family to drive to Dallas and help Flynn load his truck. Thankfully he does have a couple of friends who are helping out.

Busy Days

Sorry for my silence last night. I simply had too much to do getting ready for my class today. As it was, I didn’t quite finish my grading, but at least I got most of it done.

We watched the last of the History of Britain episodes today. Such a great series. Then we got to work on getting ready to write research papers. After supper I took Lucy to the library and she took out the maximum of 10 books!

Now I’ve got a few minutes to pull stuff together for our sewing day tomorrow. I really need to get some sleep tonight!

Peace

3-17-15 lake 4

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. It was also the first warm sunny day that we didn’t have other commitments and could actually go to the lake for lake school. It went pretty well, except for the “school” part. We got a late start, and I had to go buy dog food and picnic supplies first, but we eventually got on our way to the lake.

It was a glorious spring day. The sun was shining, the temperature was hovering around 80°, and there were lovely light breezes blowing. We were curious to see how high the lake level was after all the rain we’ve had. The answer was “pretty high.” The picnic tables, which are normally separated from the water by a wide swathe of beach, are just one big step away from the lakeshore now.

 3-17-15 lake 1

3-17-15 lake 2

We had the place to ourselves, as usual. A couple of other people came, but soon left when they saw how high the water was. We ate lunch, and after that we were all supposed to do some reading for school, but I’m afraid we failed at that. Lucy lay down in the sun and found out the ground was soggier than it looked. Jasper spent some time resting in the car. I put my feet up and dozed blissfully in the shade, with the breeze blowing past and the water lapping almost at my feet. I love to just sit out there and let the peace seep into my soul.

3-17-15 lake 3

The water was not really swimmable, and Lucy can’t swim anyway because of her recent piercing, so the most exciting thing that happened was Lucy and Jasper having a contest to see who could drink a cup of water first–without using their hands. Lucy won on a technicality.

I started a new (huge) knitting project that will be my new “Video Knitting” project because it is easy and doesn’t take a massive amount of focus. As we were getting ready to leave, we heard a lot of splashing and saw something very large thrashing in the water. We don’t know what it was. If it was a fish, it was BIG.

On the way home, we stopped to pick up corned beef and cabbage for supper. It was delicious. Then we waited for Mercy to come home and join us for the annual ritual St. Patrick’s day viewing of the original Riverdance. We have been watching that VHS tape every year on St. Patrick’s day for at least 15 years! It was a great way to end the day. Maybe we didn’t get school done, but sometimes you need a day in the sun, especially after so much rain.

Disheartened

I’ll be honest. Today was a very discouraging day, on many different levels. It started off with the discovery that our fridge in the kitchen had died at some point during the weekend. I went to get something out of the freezer, and it wasn’t frozen. Or even cold.

Jasper helped me empty out the freezer. Some things could be transferred to the big freezer in the garage. Lots of things got thrown out. And there was some chicken that was still cold enough that I could cook it. We do have a “backup” fridge in the laundry room, but it does not keep stuff very cold and it was almost full, so we transferred what we could and threw a lot more food away.

I couldn’t give my full attention to the fridge disaster because I had two classes to prepare for and some grading to do. Meanwhile, my husband was organizing a “loaner” from the university so we can take a few days to figure out what to do.

Here’s the thing: we’ve been married for almost 34 years and we have never bought a refrigerator. Weird, huh? The first few places we lived came with fridges, so we didn’t have to worry about it. Even our house in Africa had a fridge provided. It wasn’t till we returned to Texas 21 years ago that we had to provide ourselves with a fridge when the one in our rental house died. Some friends heard of our dilemma and offered us a fridge they didn’t need anymore. Later, when our family had expanded to the point that we really needed a second fridge (unless I wanted to go shopping every day), some other friends offered us one–again for free.

So for many years now, we have had two refrigerators, both of which were gifts. We worked them hard and the really big surprise is that they both lasted this long, because they were both elderly when we received them. Now it seems the time has finally come for us to buy a fridge. I have dreaded this day because even very basic refrigerators seem so ridiculously expensive to me. We will have to research and get the best deal we can for a very basic no-frills model. Not that we have ever had any “frills!”

I had about half an hour after my class ended before going up to the north side of town to meet Spencer for a graduation meeting. We had a hard time finding the meeting. We knew what church it was at–we just couldn’t find any evidence of a meeting! The meeting was very discouraging to me for personal reasons, and instead of coming home afterwards I stayed for the regular homeschool group meeting, which I have not attended in years. For a long time I didn’t have transportation and then I had something I liked doing more on Monday nights.

I have to admit I was rather shocked and dismayed when I realized how small the meetings have become. When I first started going, some 16 years ago, the meetings averaged 30-35 moms and multiple breastfeeding babies. I desperately needed to connect with other homeschooling moms and this group helped me do that. It was a close-knit group and we all knew each other. The meetings were my lifeline. We went on field trips together, taught and took classes together, and had science fairs and art shows.

The group grew over time, and soon there were 50 families–then 80–then 100. We had a big co-op class program. Although the meetings were a lot bigger, there were still plenty of my friends attending and I looked forward to them every month. I was often asked to give a devotion at the meeting and sometimes to speak on a topic that I am knowledgeable about.

So tonight, I was expecting at least 50 moms and possibly more, because I know the group is still pretty big. The meeting started with 16 people and eventually grew to 24. This confirmed what I have suspected for some time: the meetings are no longer the core of the group. The real center of the group is the co-op class program, and if you’re not involved with that you are going to feel like an outsider. All the relationships center around that big program, which explains why every single new homeschooling mom I have sent to the meetings in recent years has come back to tell me that they felt rejected and cold-shouldered to the point that they were not willing to go back.

The co-op classes are not workable for us at this point, especially due to Jasper’s dyslexia, and I have to admit that I am dismayed at the way they now dominate the group. It used to be that the classes were just one of many options and there was no stigma attached to anyone’s choice to take or not to take classes. I signed up for the group this year for two reasons: so that Spencer could participate in graduation, and so that the kids could take part in the twice-monthly teen gatherings. I knew almost no one at the meeting tonight, small as it was. I’m not sorry I went, because there was some useful information, but I left with a heavy heart. I used to belong to that group. The moms in that group were “my people.” That has not been true for some time, but it’s still hard to have it confirmed by actual experience.

I came home from the meeting to find a very grouchy husband struggling to get the dead fridge out of the house and get the loaner fridge into the house. It was not an easy task, but of course he eventually succeeded and now we have an operational fridge/freezer in the kitchen while we weigh our options. We have a lot of containers to clean too!

On a brighter note, the sun came out today for the first time in over a week and we had to turn on fans inside the house. There was no transition between “cold” and “warm.” It sure was nice to see some sunshine though.