The Longest Day

How can we be at the summer solstice already? Is time speeding up? This is a happy day for me because it means that the days will start getting shorter, which means that at some point they will also get cooler. Not till October, of course, but still . . .

I’m pretty sure I did stuff today, but I’m having a hard time remembering it all. I know I ran some errands and made cornbread and knitted some rows and did some reading and rode my exercise bike and went for a walk. Does that seem like enough?


Today was gloriously wet and rainy and overcast—all day long. What a wonderful respite it was. I ignored my to-do list and watched a movie with Jasper this morning while watching the rain pour down outside. I also fixed my knitting mistake and got quite a few rows knitted.

Jasper and I are both also doing a lot of reading for the library’s summer reading program. Recreational reading is such a treat for me.

I have now started actively looking forward to my daily walk around the track in the gym. I knew it would happen—makes it so much easier to keep the habit up! And I am also adding minutes to my bike-desk times as well.

Meanwhile, Walter spent the evening helping Daniel replace the alternator on his car. They didn’t quite finish, but it sounds like they got most of it done.

And finally, please pray for my parents, both of whom are struggling with C. Difficile now. My mom caught it from my dad (who had a relapse) and they are both on medication now, but it is a tough bug to kick.


Today is Juneteenth, but I have seen very little about it and wonder if it is being celebrated less these days than it was in the past. At least I got a chance to explain to Jasper what it was about! There wasn’t even an article about it in our local paper.

Meanwhile, I had plenty to do, from cleaning to paperwork to exercising. And reading. I joined the library’s summer reading program and I am taking my responsibility very seriously! Plus, since I had to cancel my class, I actually do have some time to read and it is so wonderful.

All day I hoped for rain, but it never came so I still had to water my plants. We have harvested several cucumbers, a couple of zucchini, and three tomatoes so far. There are dozens of tomatoes ripening though! I am looking forward to some delicious salads.

Tomorrow maybe I can start working on my editing project . . .

Father’s Day

My husband did not attend church on Father’s Day. This was at least partly because we don’t have cable TV, which means he couldn’t have recorded the Germany-Mexico game while we were at church. Instead he had to be on campus where he could watch it on a TV that DID have cable. All that and Germany lost!  So we are hoping for better things from the next two games.

In the afternoon Walter was able to have a nice long video chat with Lina, while I whipped up a chocolate chip walnut banana cake with peanut butter icing. It was a hit!

Spencer came over for supper and stayed to watch a movie with us afterward. Today he went to Shreveport to “validate” his score on the test he took as part of the process of enlisting in the Army. He did very well.

I enjoyed a visit from my friend Darlene today and also went out on several errands. I was very eager to get back to the gym for my walk also. I missed walking when I was on my trip. Depending on my mood in the morning, Jasper and I may or may not be going on an excursion.


Faith of our Fathers

Faith of our Fathers

Frederick W. Faber

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whenever we hear that glorious Word!


Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.


Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach Thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.



Books, the World Cup, and Hungarian Food

It was a hot sunny Texas day today. Poor Walter and Jasper had to work outside during the hottest part of the day—but not before Walter went to the campus and watched part of a World Cup soccer game. Yes, it is that time again—when my husband takes time off from work and skips church to watch soccer games. This year, since the USA is not in it, there is no danger of divided loyalties. My family is wholeheartedly rooting for Germany!

Meanwhile, I drove to the nearby town of Henderson this morning to attend an event showcasing local authors, several of whom I know or have at least met. I enjoyed browsing through the tables and visiting with the authors I know. I bought a couple of books, including one for Jasper.

After returning home, I took a nap before doing some paperwork. I also spent some time on my exercise bike since I knew I wouldn’t be walking today.

After Walter and Jasper had returned and cleaned up, we waited for Spencer to get off work too and then we all met at the Hungarian restaurant for an early Father’s Day dinner. We had only eaten there once before, but we all wanted to go back, and the food is close enough to German to be very tempting for Walter. And the rest of us. They even have low-carb options now, which was very nice for me.

Everyone had delicious food and we enjoyed visiting with the owners. The husband (and chief chef) is also a soccer fanatic, so he and Walter had quite a discussion about the World Cup and also legendary soccer players of the past. The restaurant is not fancy, but the quality of the food and the warmth of the atmosphere make it so enjoyable.

And we still had more strawberry shortcake to come home to! (Not me, obviously, but everyone else.)

Back in the Kitchen

It seems kind of soon to spend a lot of time in the kitchen again, but today I needed to and at least I was in my own kitchen where I can find everything!

Our friend Lee, who comes to town for just a few weeks every summer, was coming for supper so I wanted to make a nice meal. Of course, first I had to go shopping at Aldi and another store to get what Aldi didn’t have.

Lee is a big fan of my molasses spice cookies, so every year when he comes I make a batch for him. That was my first project of the afternoon. I also had a lot of onions to chop and meat to brown, shortcake to make and many strawberries to hull and slice.

Lee came over after he finished cleaning up after his summer camp (he teaches science camps) and went out back to watch Jasper blacksmithing for a while. Jasper is making himself some very heavy flatware out of railroad spikes. So far he’s got a knife and a spoon. They also make pretty good weapons.

Walter made it home while we were still sitting at the supper table. After he finished eating, we watched an episode of Voyager as that is something that Lee also enjoys. The strawberry shortcake was a big hit. I finished knitting a dishcloth and started another one. This is my way of avoiding working on my shawl because I’m going to have to drop a stitch way down and fix it and I hate doing that.


Less Light in My World

Yesterday, soon after getting on the road, I received a notification that the world had lost a truly outstanding person, and someone who was very influential in my life. Miss Joan Hoyte died on Tuesday, just days before her ninety-fourth birthday. I am so sad now, not just because she is gone, but because I never made it back to the UK to visit her, as I have wanted to do for years.

Why was a British nonagenarian so important to me? Well . . . she was the school nurse at my boarding school in Zambia. But that doesn’t actually tell you anything, does it?

Here is what I wrote about her in my memoir, This Rich & Wondrous Earth (which was dedicated to her and one other staff member):

Miss Hoyte was the school nurse, and worked in the kitchen too, but she was so much more than that.  For one thing, she was a former pupil, which seemed incredible to us.  It was hard for us to imagine her ever being a little girl, but we loved it when she told us stories about her days as a schoolgirl at Sakeji in the 1930’s.  Not counting a few years absence for further education, Miss Hoyte had spent virtually her entire life at Sakeji, and as I write this she is there still though not actively working at the school.

Miss Hoyte was all business and efficiency and she did not suffer fools gladly, or even at all.  Though her hair was prematurely gray, she had the strength and energy of a woman half her age and she had no patience with children who demonstrated laziness, foolishness, or self-pity.  She was scrupulously fair, never showed favoritism, and had a wonderful sense of humor.  Miss Hoyte was so energetic and vigorous that just catching sight of her made me feel as if I simply had to jump up and start doing something useful.  Although I never felt particularly close to her as a child, I had tremendous admiration and respect for her, which have grown over the years.  I have never heard anyone speak ill of her and I have never observed her to say or do anything that she might regret or be ashamed of afterwards.  I loved it when we would ask her why she had never married, and she would answer, “Well, I always thought I would get married and have a big family, but instead I came here and had an even bigger family!”

Miss Hoyte was the one who meted out my favorite and least favorite punishments at school. The favorite one was when I was banished to sleep in the storeroom for a whole week! And the least favorite was when I was forbidden to talk to my best friend for a month.

One of the things I truly appreciated about Miss Hoyte was her fairness. She was also very kind, in a brusque, no-nonsense way. It’s like she didn’t want people to realize what a softy she really was. I didn’t fully understand her value until I was an adult though. In the early 1990s, my husband and I were missionaries in Zambia. We had the opportunity to visit Sakeji (the school) to celebrate the retirement of one of the other teachers from my day.

Miss Hoyte had already retired—but her retirement home was right on the school campus where she could still be involved in children’s lives. Having lived in Zambia all her life, she had no interest in leaving as long as she could be healthy and active. And boy, was she active. Even in her seventies, she put most young people to shame!

She invited us over to her cottage and did such a lovely job of entertaining our children. She kept insisting that I call her “Joan,” but this is something I just could not do after so many years of respectfully calling her “Miss Hoyte.”

She instantly became something of a fairy godmother to our young children. We talked her into visiting us at our mission station a few weeks later with a couple of her friends. After a lifetime in Zambia, she had never been to that station before. I was so happy to have her. I obsessed over the food because I wanted to prove I was a good cook! We didn’t have anything fancy in our remote location, but I do remember working hard to make some good guava purée to serve with porridge in the morning, and I was so gratified when she commented on how delicious it was.

When she arrived for her visit, she brought all kinds of little goodies for the kids—from balloons to candy. They adored her—and so did I. As an adult, I realized what a genuine treasure she was. She was everything I aspired to be.

We kept in touch with occasional letters after I returned to the USA. I was thrilled to be able to return to Zambia in 2000 to celebrate the school’s 75th anniversary. She was still there, and I managed to squeeze in a lovely visit with her down at the river.

Eventually her seemingly boundless energy and health failed her, and she was forced to move to the UK. When I published my memoir and dedicated it to her, I sent her a copy. Then I waited on pins and needles to see what her reaction would be. She wrote me a lovely letter telling me how much she had enjoyed it. More importantly, she validated my efforts by telling me that my portrayal of the school and its staff was very accurate. Whew! I would so have hated to disappoint her.

As the years sped by, she had more than one stroke and in her last letter to me she complained that she had become slow and stupid. Slow, maybe—but never stupid. How I longed to make the trip to England to see her one last time. But alas, it was not to be. The time is gone and I will never again see those bright blue eyes sparkling back at me.

Here is a photo of her as a young woman:

Miss Hoyte

When it was shown at the reunion in 2000, someone yelled, “Miss Hoyte, you were a real looker!”  Yes she was. And here is a photo I took of her in 1993, entertaining our friends’ kids:

8 Joan Hoyte 1993

Note the vase with flame lilies in the background. She loved Zambia’s national flower! I stole this photo from Facebook of her returning from a trip to gather flame lilies.

Miss Hoyte with Flame Lilies

I’m so glad that I grow flame lilies in my garden, and that they are in bloom right now. I cut some this afternoon in Miss Hoyte’s memory.

6-14-18 flame lilies for Miss Hoyte

She was one of a kind—the kind you feel so fortunate to have known. She will be missed by hundreds of former students all over the world.

Thicker Than Water

Did you miss me? Boy, have I been busy. I had no time to do anything online other than post the hymn on Sunday. I am back home now after six days away. This trip was all about family.

Late Friday morning, I set off after finally getting the car packed and loaded with Jasper’s help. There were a lot of groceries to load into the trunk!

Late in the afternoon, I reached Memphis and stopped to visit with my cousin Mark for a while. Unfortunately his wife was not able to be home but I had a good visit with him. Then I drove on to Nashville and Mary and Jordan’s little riverside apartment. They had another guest too—their friend Rebakah, who is also a friend of mine, so it was great to see all three of them!

Saturday morning, after sleeping in, I was back on the road for the final two hours to Crossville. I stopped in town on my way and bought all the fresh groceries I needed before continuing on to my parents’ house.

What followed was cooking, baking, and more cooking! I made a batch of my prizewinning molasses spice cookies, and a batch of peanut butter fudge, and took them with me. Then I made five pans of enchiladas, liver and onions, beef stroganoff, date bars, prune bars, Greek yogurt, and strawberry shortcake. Everything I made, I made a lot of so we could freeze some for future meals. I also browned five pounds of ground beef with onions and garlic and packaged it up for the freezer.

Instead of staying with my parents, I was sleeping in my Aunt Lori’s new condo, which is just a couple of blocks away. (She’s my dad’s youngest sibling and only sister.) She’s the one I went to church with on Sunday.

I had taken some knitting to work on, and clothes to go walking in, but guess what? There was no time to knit or walk. It was pretty much just cooking and sleeping. The reason for this is that my parents have had some health challenges, and I was trying to lighten their load by getting a lot of meals made ahead and frozen for them.

Monday was my parent’s sixty-fourth anniversary. A friend of theirs from out of town came in and took them out to eat while I cooked more food at the house.

Tuesday morning, I said goodbye to my parents and then spent some time with my aunt before heading out to visit another aunt who lives in Nashville. My Aunt Ruthie is my mother’s sister. And guess what? Tuesday was hers and my Uncle Jim’s fifty-third anniversary! My aunt pulled out their wedding album and I had to laugh at the photos of their grumpy flower girl (that would be me) and their even grumpier ring bearer (my cousin David). So I had a nice visit with them that afternoon before finally driving back to Mary and Jordan’s place, where Mary had a delicious supper waiting.

It was so nice to see Mary and Jordan again—not to mention their neurotic cats, Howl and Calcifer. Jordan showed me the floorplan of the new place they’ll be moving to in Memphis in August. It is much bigger than their current place and has a wood-burning fireplace! Jordan was also able to remove a very irritating virus from my phone for me.

Today was just a long day of driving. I got up early to say goodbye to Mary and Jordan, who had to leave, and then tried and failed to go back to sleep. I drove through torrential rain between Nashville and Memphis, and again in and south of Little Rock. The car should be pretty clean! I also saw a spectacular lightning show in Arkansas.

Oh, and I’m very sorry, but I took no photos at all. I was too busy.

The Beautiful Garden of Prayer

It’s not often that I hear a hymn I’ve never heard before, but this morning at my aunt’s church we sang this hymn that was completely new to me.

The Beautiful Garden of Prayer

Eleanor Allen Schroll

There’s a garden where Jesus is waiting,
There’s a place that is wondrously fair,
For it glows with the light of His presence.
’Tis the beautiful garden of prayer.


Oh, the beautiful garden, the garden of prayer!
Oh, the beautiful garden of prayer!
There my Savior awaits, and He opens the gates
To the beautiful garden of prayer.

There’s a garden where Jesus is waiting,
And I go with my burden and care,
Just to learn from His lips words of comfort
In the beautiful garden of prayer.


There’s a garden where Jesus is waiting,
And He bids you to come, meet Him there;
Just to bow and receive a new blessing
In the beautiful garden of prayer.