One of the side effects of my advancing senility is that I get surprised by stuff all the time–stuff that shouldn’t surprise me because I actually arranged for it to happen.

Like today. We did school this morning and then after lunch I lay down to rest and read, and was just thinking about getting ready to do a photo shoot with Lucy, when the phone rang. It was my friend Kim at the farm, wondering if we were coming to do Biology. Normally we start at 1:30. It was now 2:30. The farm is at least a half-hour drive away.

Boy, was I surprised–but I shouldn’t have been. When Kim cancelled Biology last week due to lack of sunshine, we rescheduled for today. I, however, failed to write it down and somehow got to thinking that we were doing it tomorrow, which is our “normal” day to do Biology. So, today’s snafu was totally and completely my fault.

I stuffed my feet in my shoes and gathered kids and microscope and got us all out into the car and on our way to the north side of town. The dogs were very happy to see us and didn’t seem to mind us being late. Lucy and Ilse got their Biology lesson and Jasper as always had a blast playing with Ilse’s little brothers. I got two repeats of my knitting pattern done. Sorry I can’t tell you what I’m working on.

By the time we got home, Walter and Spencer were already at their cleaning job and we had to rush to get pizza made in time for Mercy to have some before she went to work at the library. I did not have pizza. I could tolerate pizza made with a gluten-free crust, but pizza with no cheese just isn’t pizza!

Speaking of Spencer working, he started a job at Hastings this week. He is training this week and will be working part time. He needs to make more than he can with Walter in order to support his fast food habit and keep gas in his car. Now if he can only get his schoolwork done too . . .

I have spent much of the last two days looking for Scarlett, the new Kindle which I got primarily to help Jasper with school. I was getting a little panicky by this evening, but I finally found it! Now Jasper will have something to do tomorrow when we are gone and after he finishes his math.

“Boxing” Day

Today was a pretty good school day. It was also a box-packing day. I have an opportunity to send some stuff to Lina via a couple in Canada who are going to Sakeji in March, so I have spent the last few days trying to track down everything that needed to go in that box.

There is also a bunch of stuff that’s been accumulating for Lina that is not urgent but which needs to be packed to go on a container that will be shipping from Canada later this spring.

So, I got the small box done and sent to Canada. Two of the other boxes are packed but it looks like I will need to send at least one more. It is good to get it taken care of.

Lucy did not have the naan obsession out of her system so she made some more today. Alas, none of it was gluten free so I didn’t get any this time. I hear it was delicious, though.

Today was also a hard, hard day for me as a parent. Some issues came up that had to be addressed and it was very difficult. Parenting is not for cowards!

I am working on a couple of essays for you but they’re not quite done yet. So instead, let me encourage you if you have young people who like fantasy to introduce them to the works of Donita K. Paul. Her new book, One Realm Beyond, just released yesterday and is available on Amazon and I’m sure other online stores as well. If you want to read my review, it is posted on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads too.

Indian Rhapsody

Since I don’t have to teach this week, that means I have a little more “free” time than normal. We still did school today, obviously, but I had arranged to have lunch with my friend Darlene. She had heard from a mutual acquaintance that there was a restaurant serving Indian food in a nearby town, so we decided to see if that was true.

We hit the jackpot, my friends. The name of the place is a little silly: “Chill’um.” We loved the look of it and when we walked in, we were the only customers. It is a “mom & pop” place run by a gracious Indian couple. The menu contains plenty of non-Indian food for patrons who don’t know any better. We had wonderful service and fabulous food.

After our “Indian street food” appetizers and our Indian chicken main course, we were discussing whether or not to splurge on dessert. The chef (husband) overheard us and brought out a beautifully arranged tray containing samples of each dessert they offered. Somehow we both ended up with servings of crème brûlée!

Apparently on Saturdays they do a lot more Indian food so I foresee a Saturday date night in our future before long. It is so nice not to have to drive to Dallas for this kind of edible heaven!

After I returned home (bearing samosas to share with Walter) I got the relish started for this year’s Our World Café involvement. Once again we got volunteered to make Zambian nshima and relish for this year’s event.

Later in the afternoon Lucy and I went out to get some stuff for Lina as container time is coming up very quickly. I think we got everything Lina had asked for.

Then it was back home to add the final ingredients to the relish and get Mercy started on making the nshima. I couldn’t stay around to see how it turned out because I had my writers’ meeting, which I enjoyed as always.

Mercy and Spencer took the food to campus and dispensed it to all comers. For the second year in a row, the Chai House delegation was the last one standing. Everyone else ran out of food but Mercy and Spencer were handing it out to the very end! Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

And after my foray to the Indian place today, Lucy got inspired to make naan this evening, and she even made a gluten free variety too. Yum!

About Loss, Campers, & a Cloak

Yesterday (Sunday) I had hoped to drag my husband with me to the local Outdoor Expo, but since he was too busy, I took Jasper. It was the last day of the Expo but the first chance I had to go. I love going and looking at campers. For my entire life I have had the ambition of someday owning a camper and roaming the continent with it. Somehow, I thought it would have happened by now!

But anyway, Jasper and I had a blast looking through all the campers and boats. Apparently tent camping doesn’t exist anymore. It certainly wasn’t represented at the show! And there weren’t any “entry level” or pop-up campers either.

The first one we looked at was one of the smaller ones, yet it had all the basics and was nicely laid out. As modest as it was, however, the price was still rather jaw-dropping. The real eye-poppers, though, were the huge fifth wheel trailers. They were clearly designed to be someone’s primary residence, and were priced accordingly. We saw some that had (electric) fireplaces, dishwashers, kitchen islands, king size beds, big-screen TVs (inside and out), decks, and a host of other luxuries. Some cost as much as we paid for our house! And they were definitely too big to be considered “tiny” houses!

There was only one “class C” motorhome–my particular dream camper, but I really liked the one they had. It would be perfect for us! Alas, it also cost close to what we paid for our house. Still, it was a lot of fun to check it out.

Jasper got to have some fun at an archery booth where their motto was “Making Death Happen.” He enjoyed it and I got a kick out of the logo!

Today was a hard day. It started with the news that someone I knew in Zambia had died–a man of my parents’ generation, the father of my childhood friend Melanie, and someone for whom I had a great deal of respect and admiration.

Then this afternoon I went to Bible Study with Robin again and shortly after we arrived at the church I got a text from Walter saying that he had been passed over for promotion again (the fourth time). There is a lot I could say about this, but I try very hard not to say that kind of thing on my blog, so I will shut my mouth. Or fingers. Or whatever.

Spencer spent much of the day looking for his wallet, which had disappeared over the weekend. It had his driver’s license and Social Security card in it, not to mention his debit card. You can imagine how he rejoiced when he finally located it this evening!

I cooked and picked twenty pounds of chicken because we got volunteered to provide Zambian food for an event tomorrow. This is not a job I enjoy, but at least doing it tonight saves me from having to do it tomorrow!

Parting Shot:

 Lina's cloak back

Since Lina has finally received her Christmas boxes, I can show you the cloak I made her. She wanted a lightweight, knee-length cloak to wear in Zambia.

Everybody Ought to Know

We sang this in church this morning, and it made me remember, as it always does, a story that one of my teachers used to tell, about a little boy English boy who misunderstood this song and thought that the words were “Every Bobbie ought to know.” So the kid made it his mission to witness to policemen whenever possible!

Everybody Ought to Know

Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Who Jesus is.

Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Who Jesus is.

He’s the lily of the valley
He’s the bright and morning star
He’s the fairest of ten thousand
Everybody ought to know.

Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Who Jesus is.

On the cross He died for sinners
And His blood makes white as snow
Loving, living, coming Savior
He’s the One you ought to know.

Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Who Jesus is.

Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Who Jesus is.


In Which I Go to a Bible Quiz & Return with a Large Box of Tea

Today was Jasper’s Bible quiz in Texarkana, which is almost a two-hour drive from here. He elected to go with Kim and Benjamin, so I got him up early and had him ready by the time they left at 7:15. I lolled around until 7:30 before leaving in the Suburban, stopping to fill up the tank and get breakfast along the way.

The quiz went well, and once again I was asked to be a scorer. Once again both Jasper and Benjamin got all 40 questions correct. I am so proud of them both! That is a lot of information to remember.

Because our friends Steve and Diane live in Texarkana, I had arranged to stop and visit with them after the quiz, so Jasper and I took off for their house, trusting in TomTom to get us there. TomTom was kind of confused, it turns out. It told me to take exits which did not exist. It told me to turn the wrong way on a one-way street. And when we finally did get on to Steve and Diane’s street, it told me to turn into a rather sketchy-looking driveway which led to a very sketchy-looking ramshackle house. There was a woman standing outside smoking a cigarette and glaring at us. I hoped there wasn’t anyone in the house pointing a gun at us, because it was the kind of place where that seemed likely. I cringed and turned around as quickly as I could.

When we got back on the road, I called Steve and found out their house was more than a mile down the road. Thanks to his directions, we reached it safely and had a good visit. Their son Spencer is very close in age to Jasper, and the two of them had a blast playing with their Nerf guns and generally being boys, while I got to visit with Steve and Diane. Although I have known Steve for many years, I never knew until today that he shares my enthusiasm for tiny houses. (Picture my kids rolling their eyes at this.)

Before I left, they pulled out three big boxes of exotic flavored tea and insisted that I take my pick and fill a box. It seems their older son Josh was in the tea business at one point and had given them cases and cases of it. So I came home with tea in flavors including, but not limited to, banana, orange, pomegranate, apricot, cinnamon, anise, jasmine, melon, cardamom, and ginger. There should be some interesting taste-testing going on around here in the days to come . . .

We said goodbye to Steve and Diane and then set off on the long drive home through the dazzling winter sunshine. Oh, how I love the sun in winter! Already the days are lengthening and already my morbid dread of summer is beginning to awaken, but I can still enjoy and appreciate a stunningly beautiful day like today.

When we got home we hung out with Flynn for a while, and then I talked him into taking me to pick up Lucy from her youth group retreat, only to find that she didn’t want to come home! She is spending the night with Robin’s girls, so we came home Lucy-less.

Right after supper Flynn and Mercy and their friend Brianna left for Houston, where they will be spending the day tomorrow with a friend who is visiting from Idaho. I hope they have a great time.

Full Friday

Fridays got a little hairier as of today. I rather rashly agreed to letting Lucy take part in the 4-H Food Quiz Bowl, and they meet to practice at 8:45 on Friday mornings, so we were up and trying to function earlier than usual. Lucy and I were actually the first ones there, so we were standing out in the freezing cold for a few minutes until someone else arrived.

We had to go directly from quiz practice up to Robin’s house. Well, not directly. We had to stop at Walmart to pick up a few things for Lucy’s youth retreat this weekend, and to our amusement we saw Robin there!

I had a tutoring session with Robin’s daughters and the Lucy left with them for the retreat and Robin and I had a nice visit before I came home. (We did not have Biology today, thank goodness!) I did some stuff and we had supper and then I made some cookies and reviewed Bible quizzing with Jasper and then FLYNN CAME.

I also spent a really long time on the phone with a guy from Audible trying to figure out why the book Jasper’s been listening to stopped halfway through. It turns out that it takes several hours for a book to fully download. I had no idea!

Tomorrow–a trip to Texarkana for Jasper’s Bible quiz, and a visit with friends.

Ain’t No Sunshine

The plan for today was to do a lot of school this morning and then go to the farm for Biology this afternoon. We did okay on the first part. Jasper and I actually got a lot done this morning and I was very proud of him.

The problem came with the second part of the plan. The biology experiment that Lucy and Ilse were supposed to do today required sunshine–and we didn’t have any. It was cold and overcast all day. So, the lab was canceled and we stayed home all afternoon.

I did get three loads of laundry done in our new machine, and I found out that you have to push in the little detergent tray or it won’t dispense the detergent!

We saw some flakes of snow this afternoon, but we didn’t have any visible accumulation like some other parts of Texas. The kids are still hoping some magic will happen overnight.

Of Socks & Candles

Today I had a class to get ready for, and despite the fact that my computer is working better, I still had a LOT of trouble getting on the internet and as for the printer, it will only work if connected by cable to my laptop. I know. I’m spoiled. But I really, really liked the convenience of a wireless printer.

My class went pretty well I think and then afterwards I had to cut Spencer’s hair because it was getting too long on the sides to have that real “Jedi” look to it. So I cut the sides to his specifications and then he took a shower and spiked his hair and has now informed me that the top is too long too! So I guess there will be another haircut this weekend.

One issue we had all day, including during class, is that the dining room lights were underperforming. This house was built in 1951, when apparently huge fluorescent lights were all the rage. There are three huge fluorescent fixtures in the dining room, one of which we just pretend is not there. Lately the other two are sometimes distressing dim, either together or separately. Today was a dim day. It made the whole class seem dreary (another fun feature of our dining room is that it has no windows).

By supper time, the room was very dark so I made a spur of the moment candle thing out of a foil pie pan and a bunch of striped candles that have been taking up space in my freezer for years for no reason at all.

1-22-14 candles (5)

It was quite effective at lighting our dinner table!

And finally, just for those of you who have the hilarious idea that I am competent at, well, anything, I have to admit that I really failed at something today. Some time ago I got some plain white socks and some dye, with the idea that I could dye the socks a couple of different colors, because when you have huge feet, socks pretty much only come in black and white, except for the super awesome ones that your daughter knits for you.

So anyway, I decided to dye half the socks a forest green color, because I have been branching out into wearing more green lately. I was under the impression that the socks had enough cotton content for them to take the dye pretty well. I had the wrong impression. It seems that virtually all of the cotton was just in the cuffs. So what I ended up with was five pairs of socks with nice deep green cuffs sitting on top of a sort of dreary pale grayish green–a really unattractive color if ever there was one. Also, I now have green hands because I used my hands to swish the socks around while I was rinsing them. And I bet when I wear them I will have green feet too.

How to Worry Your Mother to Death

I miss the days when the kids were all young and at home. Well, sometimes. Like this morning. Today is Tuesday, Spencer’s morning Bible Study day, which means he has to be up no later than 6:15. At 6:30 this morning, my husband said to me, “Is Spencer going to Bible Study?” We hadn’t heard any sounds indicating that he was up, so I went to his room to call him.

“Are you going to Bible Study?” I asked, before I realized that there was a guitar on the bed instead of a boy. He had been out last night playing music with some friends, and had not returned by the time I went to bed. Still, I had just assumed that he would return, as he always has in the past. But there his bed was, empty, and I had no idea where he was or whom he was with.

I knew he didn’t have his own transportation, since his car is in the shop again, but he has plenty of friends with cars and I figured one of them would bring him home. Nope. I texted him but there was obviously no answer at that hour of the morning. A couple of hours later I finally heard from him. He was at a friend’s apartment–one he goes to so often that he just calls it “the apartment.” And he needed help. He had an appointment at 10:00 and would need his Social Security card. He hadn’t been able to get a ride home the previous night.

So I drove all the way to the other side of town with his Social Security card, took him and his friend Daniel to where they needed to be, then drove home and continued my efforts to get my class materials prepared and printed in time. Then I had to drive all the way up there again to pick Spencer up and bring him home. He promptly went to bed and didn’t reappear until late afternoon.

Meanwhile, I had to do most of my class preparation on Walter’s computer and print everything out on his printer because I couldn’t get my own to cooperate at all.

Walter had his interview this morning and it seemed to go well. We won’t know the results for several days, and we are not holding our breath as to the outcome.

I had my high school class this afternoon, including recess, during which I cleverly but unknowingly locked my poor students outside in the cold while I went to the other end of the house where I couldn’t hear them knocking!

After supper my brother Matt called in response to a desperate text I had sent him about my computer and printer woes. He was able to commandeer my computer from afar and fix a bunch of the stuff that was wrong with it, much to my delight. He was so patient and thorough. The malware finder-fixer program he used found over 1000 problems!

The printer is still having issues. I reinstalled it, but so far it has only worked when plugged directly into my laptop, and I really need it to remember that it is a wireless printer! Of course, it would also help if I could actually get online . . . I’ve been writing this in hopes that my internet access will return at some time . . .

And to top things off, one of my stories was rejected for the second time in less than two weeks, this time by an editor that found it lacking in the “magic” he was looking for. I’m trying hard not to be downhearted and just send it out again, despite the fact that it is lacking magic.