Bee Dreaming

This has been, and continues to be, a busier than normal week. After a very wakeful night full of rain, sleet, and snow, I got up to yet another dusting of whiteness on the ground but clear roads. The snow started melting the minute the sun was up, so my poor students were forced to come to class.

I helped Jasper make some honey cookies this morning so we could take them to the bee keeping meeting tonight. After my class ended, we had about half an hour to get ready and grab a bite to eat before heading to the meeting, where a very knowledgeable man spoke about “splitting” hives.

Also, because the one bee keeper we know is the club president, he intervened on our behalf when he found out that Jasper didn’t make it into the scholarship program this year. Now he’s in, but he has to play catch-up! Later this month he’ll be going to a day-long class, followed by another class next month and then we’ll get our first hive! At least I think that’s how it works.

The honey cookies were a big hit and we didn’t bring many back home with us. The drive home in the moonlight was beautiful, unlike the drive there when I was driving straight into the setting sun and couldn’t see anything except spots in front of my eyes.

Tomorrow, I’m pretty sure that more stuff is going to happen.




Is It Too Late to Start Building an Ark?

Seriously. I love rain. I really, really do. But enough is enough. We have had so much precipitation in the last couple of weeks. There is standing water everywhere, and it’s still coming down with more to come! Today’s rain is supposed to change to ice overnight and then to snow. Oh, yippee. Area schools have already canceled for tomorrow. I won’t make a call on my class until mid-morning tomorrow, which means I need to be ready just in case. Did Texas move farther north when I had my back turned?

This morning Mercy was inducted into the Theology honor society at the university. They have just started their own chapter, so Mercy is a charter member. Way to go, Mercy!

Today I was mostly a chauffeur. I took Jasper to piano, ran an errand, picked Jasper up from piano, came home, took Spencer to worship band practice, came home, started supper, took Lucy to youth group, came home, ate supper, picked Lucy up from youth group, and ran another errand before coming home again! Thank goodness Mercy has offered to go pick Spencer up if he needs it. Hopefully, before the freezing precipitation starts!

Parting Shot (I have a couple of good ones for you today.):

3-1-14 Spencer playing guitar

Spencer does not conform to musician norms while playing the guitar.

3-4-15 Mal in a bag

I left a paper sack lying around today, and someone found it. Then she got herself all freaked out for no reason at all and leapt out of the bag and starting tearing all over the house.

A Musical Afternoon

I promise, I am not slacking off on my blogging. Well, not much. Yesterday, our internet was sporadic at best and in fact every time I tried to use it I failed. Flynn says our house is a modem killer and I’m beginning to believe it!

The main thing that happened yesterday was that I got to go have an autoharp lesson. I left in beautiful sunny spring weather and a temperature of 71°. As I got closer to my teacher’s house, it got cloudier and a little cooler and it began to drizzle. It was still a lovely drive.

I am working on my first couple of “special number” arrangements. I have no idea if I’ll ever have a chance to play a “special number” but I’m working on them anyway just for my own pleasure. My teacher helped me figure out a tricky sequence that I don’t have sheet music for. We just played it over and over on my Kindle and eventually she was able to get it all chorded.

I am excited about getting to work on a couple of pieces and really getting good at them. My routine of having to learn two new hymns a week means that I don’t ever get to really perfect anything.

I came home to a house with no internet and no phone. Bummer.

A Birthday Dinner & a Very Expensive Conversation

Sorry I did not post on Saturday. I started feeling very unwell during the afternoon and was pretty apathetic the rest of the day. Thankfully my family managed to put on a great chai party and despite the cold weather there was a good turnout.

Yesterday (Sunday) we arrived home from church to find Flynn’s car already in the driveway, which led to great jubilation. He had come to join us for my husband’s birthday dinner. It also happened to be our monthly day to call Lina, so I tried to call, only to find that our landline was dead. Then I tried to call on my cell phone, only to hear that my plan is not set up for international calling. I was a little surprised by this, since Lina and I text back and forth all the time!

So I asked Flynn if he would be willing to call on his phone, and he obligingly agreed. Most of us talked to Lina, and some of us talked for quite a while, before we finally got cut off. You can imagine my dismay and horror when Flynn texted me today to let me know that the phone call had cost close to $200! I honestly had no idea it was that expensive! When we call on our landline, we go through PennyTalk, and even a conversation of two hours is still under $20. Next time the landline is dead, we will postpone the call!

Eventually everyone was home and it was time for dinner. We had sombrero dip (my husband’s usual request), tortilla chips, and gluten free carrot cake for dessert. Sadly, Flynn had to leave right after supper. Flynn, in fact, is preparing to leave Texas later this month. He has wanted to move to Colorado for some time now. A month or so ago he started putting out his resume. Last week he had his first phone interview. He told me he thought it went well, but not well enough that they had hired him on the spot. Instead they waited till the next morning before hiring him.

So, he has already started packing and I’m sure at some point we will go to help him load his U-Haul and say our final farewells. Instead of seeing him about once a month, I think the best we can hope for from now on is about once a year. I am very happy for him, because I know he’ll love it in Colorado, but we sure are going to miss him!

After he left, we watched a movie and then went to bed. I began to have some warning signs of acid reflux, so I got out of bed and went to sleep in my chair in the living room, only to hear a knock at the door! It was Mercy, returning without her key. Back to the chair I went, only to have Mercy seek me out with the bad news that the bathtub faucet in the kids’ bathroom was pouring out water and could not be turned off. Grrr!

I had to wake up my poor husband and he had to get up and get dressed. He and I spent some time filling every bucket we could find before he went outside in the pouring rain and turned off the main water line to the house. We were up over an hour dealing with that whole mess before going back to bed (or chair, in my case).

It sure was hard to get up this morning and face the fact that I couldn’t have a shower to help me feel better about my interrupted night!

We used our water stockpile to flush toilets and wash hands until lunch, when my heroic Mr. Fixit fixed the faucet and we were back in business.

I taught my two classes this afternoon and was glad to see my students since we had to cancel last week during the snow and ice.

This evening I have been working on an autoharp arrangement and feel that I am making some headway. I have a lesson tomorrow.

Nearer, Still Nearer

This is one of my all-time favorite hymns. Although I’m quite sure I sang it as a child, it didn’t become special to me until I was 17 and uprooted from Africa to the USA. I found myself in a large boarding school/university, bereft, grieving, and deeply depressed. Sunday school was mandatory, so I went with one of my roommates to the Baptist girls’ Sunday school class, which consisted of about 500 high school and college girls.

Every Sunday we began the class by singing this hymn a cappella. The sound was angelically ethereal. The beauty of the singing and the yearning in the words spoke to my heart. I so desperately needed a haven at that time in my life. Years later, I would sing this hymn to my babies night after night as I rocked them to sleep.

Now, I can play it on my autoharp, and we sang it in church this morning. I still love it.

Nearer, Still Nearer

by Leila N. Morris

Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,
Draw me, my Savior—so precious Thou art!
Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast.
Shelter me safe in that “Haven of Rest”;
Shelter me safe in that “Haven of Rest.”

Nearer, still nearer, nothing I bring,
Naught as an offering to Jesus, my King;
Only my sinful, now contrite heart.
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.

Nearer, still nearer, Lord, to be Thine!
Sin, with its follies, I gladly resign,
All of its pleasures, pomp and its pride,
Give me but Jesus, my Lord, crucified.
Give me but Jesus, my Lord, crucified.

Nearer, still nearer, while life shall last.
Till safe in glory my anchor is cast;
Through endless ages ever to be
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee;
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee!

Goodbye, Mr. Spock

Along with the rest of all geekdom, we were sad to hear the news that Leonard Nimoy passed away this morning. I’ve been a fan since 1982, my husband since several years earlier.

This morning I had to take Jasper shopping for a birthday present for his friend Kristin, and then come back to start getting ready for our sewing session at the church for the orphanage. Just a couple of hours before we were due to be there, the lady that organized it said that she and her daughter would be unable to come due to a death in the family. Another family couldn’t make it because of a flat tire. That left only one other person besides me, so I cancelled the sewing. We’ll have to reschedule!

After taking Jasper up to Kristin’s birthday party, Lucy and I went out for a drink just to be out of the house after this week of ice and snow. We also picked up some calendars on sale because we LOVE calendars in this family.

I also got some knitting and critiquing done. Then, when Walter returned home from his second job and had his supper, we honored the memory of Leonard Nimoy by watching two of our favorite Star Trek episodes–City on the Edge of Forever and Requiem for Methuselah. Tomorrow, we’ve got a chai party to get ready for.

One Snowy Night

All the snow we got this week brought back a memory of a time, long ago, when I lived in a state much farther north than Texas. I think I must have been nineteen at the time. It was my first cold winter in six years (five years in Africa and one year in the south). There were very cold temperatures and there was lots of snow.

To one who had been living in the tropics, the snow was magically beautiful. I wanted to photograph it, to catch its pristine loveliness. The problem was that I lived in the city, where nothing was pristine for more than a few minutes. I hatched a plan. I would venture forth on the night of the next full moon, with my camera and tripod, and I would find some lovely rural spot and take some enchanting photos of snow.

A problem arose when it became clear that I would not have access to a vehicle on the night I had chosen. My friend, “Sarah,” came to my rescue and offered to drive me out into the country in her car. Sarah was a couple of years older than me, had already graduated from college and was working in our town. We had quite a bit in common and she was the best friend I had locally at that time.

I was so excited about my nocturnal expedition. I made a batch of “full moon” cookies and iced them with blue icing. I made a big thermos of hot chai. I had my camera and tripod ready and all the warm clothing I owned. The temperature outside was hovering at 3°F.

Sarah picked me up and we drove rather aimlessly up into the countryside. The deep snow was breathtakingly beautiful. We turned on to a rural road and Sarah told me to just tell her to stop when I found a vista I wanted to photograph. We reached a picturesque spot with a farmhouse off in the distance on the left and fenced fields punctuated by clumps of trees on the right. It was exquisite. I asked her to stop so I could take pictures, and she obligingly pulled over.

The moment she pulled to the side of the road, my side of the car sank suddenly and deeply into the snow. She had pulled over into a ditch which was invisible under all the snow. She tried to pull out and back onto the snow-covered road, but she had no traction and the wheels just spun merrily without going anywhere.

At this point our excursion took an ugly turn. I saw it as an adventure. Sarah saw it as a catastrophe. She was in full freak-out mode, which I frankly found puzzling. “We’ll just walk to the farmhouse and call my dad,” I explained. “He can come tow us out of the ditch and we’ll be fine.” (This was long before cell phones were a thing.)

“We don’t know those people in the farmhouse!” she all but shrieked. “For all we know, they might be murderers! They might not let us in! They might not have a phone!”

“Well, there’s one way to find out,” I said. “If you don’t want to come with me you can stay here and have some chai and cookies.”

“Don’t you dare leave me here by myself! If you’re going, I’m going!”

We set off down the deserted road. I brought my camera because it was my most valued possession and besides, I could take some photos on the way. Sarah was grim and mostly silent, except when she was chastising me for not taking our situation seriously enough. We had our scarves over our mouths and noses to keep them warm.

The snow crunched under our feet as we turned to walk up the long driveway. It was a beautiful evening. After pulling our scarves down around our necks so as not to be seen as a threat, we knocked (well, I knocked) on the farmhouse door and it was eventually answered by a very prim elderly lady, who was no doubt wondering how there could be anyone at the door when she hadn’t heard a car.

I explained our predicament, much to the lady’s amazement, and asked if we could use her phone to call my dad. She let us in, a little reluctantly, and led me to the phone in the kitchen. The house was scrupulously clean and painfully tidy. There was not so much as a speck of dust anywhere. The man of the house was sitting bolt upright in a plain wooden chair. There was no upholstered furniture to be seen, or any other sign of comfort.

I called home and talked to my mother, who assured me that my dad would be on the way to rescue us as soon as he got out of the bath. I told her exactly where we were so that he’d be able to find us. I was elated that everything was going to work out, and I thought Sarah would be as thrilled as I was to hear that my dad was coming. Instead, she seemed just as unhappy as before.

Our hostess offered us a hot drink, which Sarah instantly refused–no doubt for fear it might be poisoned. The lady asked what we were doing out in the country at night and was clearly dumbfounded when I told her that I had come to take pictures of the snow and the full moon. I don’t think she had any folder in her brain in which to file this piece of information.

She offered to let us stay in the nice warm house while waiting for my dad, since it would be a minimum of 45 minutes before we could expect him to arrive. I suggested to Sarah that she could stay in the house and I would go on outside and take my pictures, since that was the whole point of the excursion in the first place. Nope. No way was she willing to stay in the house with those scary farm people.

She followed me out the door and down the driveway in the frigid night air. When we got back to the car, she climbed inside and slammed the door. I climbed into the back seat to avoid making the other side sink down even deeper. Once again I offered blue moon cookies and hot tea to my friend, but I was met with a wall of rage. I could not understand why she was so angry. Help was on the way!

I got my tripod and set up in the middle of the road. It’s not like there was any other traffic. I would work until my hands were numb, and then climb back in the car for a few swallows of tea while my fingers thawed. Each time I tried to reassure Sarah and cheer her up, and each time I was summarily rebuffed.

Shortly after I ran out of film (remember film?) my dad arrived. He attached a tow strap and pulled us out of the ditch with ease. Then he detached the strap and we followed him slowly back to town. Now, I thought, now that everything had turned out splendidly, Sarah would be relieved and happy.

No. There was no happy. There was continuing, volcanic rage which was directed at me. Until that evening, I would not have thought she was even capable of such deep and bitter anger. I was so baffled. I tried to reason with her by pointing out how our prayers for help had been answered so wonderfully. We had got stuck within easy walking distance of a house with a phone. The owners of the house were decent and generous people. My dad had been at home, willing and able to come to our rescue. None of this comforted my friend. She kept saying things like, “But what if the people hadn’t been nice? What if your dad couldn’t come?”

This response was nonsensical to me. If those things had happened, we would have had to make a new plan, obviously, but they hadn’t happened. In my mind, the trip had been a rousing success. Not only had I achieved my goal of taking photos of snow in the moonlight, but I had had an adventure as well! Sarah was particularly bitter about the fact that I had just gone ahead and taken photos after we got stuck. Apparently she would have preferred for me to freak out and abandon the whole reason for being where we were.

I gave up trying to dilute her fury and lapsed into silence, trying to enjoy what remained of our snowy drive. We arrived at my house and I thanked a very taut Sarah before getting out.

I thought that after she had a day or two to think about it, she would realize that there was nothing to be mad about and that our moonlit excursion had actually been a success. In years to come we would laugh about how mad she was that night.

Not a chance, my friends. The one time I brought up the subject of that night, I was hit by an explosion of rage that almost shriveled my soul. We did remain friends, but the subject of that cold snowy night was off limits for all time. I think each of us thought a little less of the other as a result of that experience, though. She thought less of me because I hadn’t taken our predicament seriously enough; and I remain baffled to this day by her reaction. In my mind, she took our predicament far too seriously.

So, what is my point? Well, my point is that I think flexibility is a really good thing. It is one of the character traits that I admire most and aspire to having. I like to think that I am pretty flexible. When I suffer a setback, I like to think that I just see it as a challenge along the way to success. I am ashamed of the times that I have allowed circumstances to get me down, because almost invariably, I am able to change the plan and things have worked out in the end.

By the way, my photos didn’t turn out nearly as well as I had hoped, but I kept them as a souvenir of that very memorable evening!

I am no longer in touch with Sarah, but sometimes I wonder about her. I hope she has been able to become more flexible and to meet challenges with resourcefulness instead of panic. I wonder if she ever thinks of that bone-chilling moonlit night and wishes she had reacted differently. I guess I’ll never know.

Melting & Knitting

Today I finally got to teach another class! After being sick last week and having snow this week, I was ready to see my students again. First, of course, I had the preparation to do. My husband got up at went to work at the normal time (6:45), only to get there and find out that the university was closed until 11:00! So he had yet another morning off.

The dripping of melting snow went on all day, to the point where it sounded like rain. And, wonder of wonders, a shining yellow ball appeared in the sky today! I had almost forgotten what that was like!

I’ve been doing a lot of knitting in every spare minute. I am finally working on a project I enjoy and with yarn that I love and I’m trying to knit fast enough to finish it before the weather warms. I hope it turns out all right, seeing that I’m totally making it up as I go along.

We learned a lot about Queen Victoria in class today. Strange woman.

I was going to do some sewing tonight, but instead I ended up cutting hair, talking to Mary on the phone, and knitting! Oh well . . .

Texas Snow

We woke this morning to the sound of pouring rain. Despite the fact that it rained steadily for hours, most of the ice/sleet did not melt. The university had postponed classes and work until late morning, so there was no rush to do anything. Then at about 9:30 or so it started snowing. Just small flakes at first, then huge fat fluffy balls of snow coming down by the thousands.

2-25-15 snow 1

It snowed and snowed. I couldn’t stop watching it. Of course, the kids went out to play in it. A third snow day in a row is virtually unprecedented here.

2-25-15 snow 2

The university shut down for the day. By late morning we had close to six inches of snow.

2-25-15 snow 3

The kids made snowmen.

2-25-15 snow man

They made and threw snowballs. Jasper and his friends made a good start on a snow fort.

2-25-15 snowy pecan tree

It was magical. This is the most snow we’ve had in several years.

2-25-15 snowy liriope

I know you northerners are looking at the photos and thinking, Pfft! That’s not even close to six inches! Well, the photos were mostly taken pretty early on during the snowfall. Really.

2-25-15 snowy pine

Then, right at lunchtime, the snow turned to rain. It was a very light, fine rain, but it was definitely rain. Because it was still cold, the snow did not all melt, although the roads mostly cleared. In fact, I took Lucy on a Walmart run early this evening.

I also supervised Jasper doing math, got some knitting and sewing stuff done, helped Walter make a loaf of bread, chorded a couple of hymns and practiced my autoharp. I’ve still got a ton of things that didn’t get crossed off my list.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping we’ll actually have class.

Parting Shot:

2-25-15 Rudy

Because of the cold and wet, Rudy has spent quite a bit of time indoors the last three days. When we first got him, he could be contained in a rather small cardboard box. Now he needs our largest plastic bin, and he is close to being able to climb out of it.

An Icy Birthday

Thanks to the icy weather, my husband got to sleep in this morning, which happened to be his birthday. I won’t say how old he is, but he does look very good for his age. He didn’t have to go to work till 10:30. Instead he got up and after breakfast he and the boys went outside and worked at breaking up the ice on our patio, driveway and sidewalk. In many places it was an inch thick!

We did some school and I finished the little pair of shorts. I also finished a knitting project and started a new one. Late in the afternoon I ventured out to go to the credit union and also to the grocery store to pick up a few things. By then the temperature was above freezing, and the roads were mostly clear.

My husband’s birthday celebration won’t be till the weekend, but I wanted to have a semi-nice dinner for him and Lucy and I made a cake also. We finished up the evening watching a movie together.

Tonight, we are supposed to get more freezing precipitation. It would be really nice if it turns out to be snow!