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!

Old Friends & Bad Weather

As I’m sure you can imagine, it has been simply sublime to be able to take hot showers again. Oh, so heavenly! I am so thankful to have a handy husband.

Yesterday after church it was time to start getting ready for company. Our “adopted” college student, Jonnie, had alerted me that his parents and sister were coming into town for a couple of days. Jonnie’s parents are old friends of our from Zambia days. In fact his dad and I went to grade school at Sakeji together. And college also, right here where Jonnie is now a student.

So anyway, we had invited them to come over for a visit and stay for supper. Add in Spencer’s girlfriend and Mercy’s boyfriend, and I was cooking for 12 yesterday. What a change from last week’s pitiful three people at Sunday dinner!

I tried to get as much done as I could (cooking and cleaning) before our visitors arrived. It was so good to see them again. We had a nice visit before everyone else arrived for supper.

2-23-15 Weiandts

Twelve is the maximum we can fit around our table, and it is rather crowded, but it is also fun to have a table full. The rosemary chicken and roasted vegetables were a big hit, as was the cherry crunch for dessert.

As the evening progressed, one of the big topics of conversation was the weather. Originally, we were supposed to get freezing rain by midnight. Then 4:00 a.m. The university panicked and postponed classes until midmorning today. When our friends left late in the evening, there was still no sign of bad weather and the estimate was for the precipitation to hit at 6:00. By the time we went to bed they were saying 7:00.

Meanwhile, my mom called to let me know that they had been power-less for two days, had a tree down across the road, and were sitting in the dark in a frigid house. (They live in eastern Tennessee.) I was more than a little concerned!

When we got up this morning it was still clear and they were saying the freezing precipitation might hit at 10:00. Or 11:00. Walter went to work at his usual time. I had promised my students I’d let them know by 9:00 if we were cancelling class. You can imagine how relieved I was to get a text from my mother letting me know that their power had been restored.

At 9:00 it was just beginning to rain here, but the weather map showed a very large system headed our way, so I canceled my classes. By 10:00 it started sleeting. Walter got sent home and university classes were cancelled for the rest of the day. At 11:00 it looked like this:

2-23-15 kids & ice

That’s Jasper and his friends carrying dog food bags to slide on down the slope behind our house. When they all were thoroughly chilled, they came into the house to make hot chocolate.

With no responsibilities, it was a luxuriously lazy day. I took a nap and a shower in the morning (glorious hot water!). I did some handwork, some editing, and almost finished a pair of orphanage shorts. Another nap happened, as did a call to my mother.

At some point, the sleet turned to snow and the whiteness in the yard deepened:

2-23-15 afternoon ice & snow

Apparently we might get more frozen precipitation overnight, and more is forecast for Wednesday morning. The kids have been longing for snow this winter!

Parting Shot:

2-23-15 icicle

An icicle dangling over our front porch.

Showers of Blessing

I couldn’t resist featuring this hymn today, a day when there have been many showers!

Showers of Blessing

Fanny Crosby

Here in Thy Name we are gathered,
Come and revive us, O Lord;
“There shall be showers of blessing,”
Thou hast declared in Thy Word.

Oh, graciously hear us,
Graciously hear us, we pray:
Pour from Thy windows upon us
Showers of blessing today.

Oh! that the showers of blessing,
Now on our souls may descend,
While at the footstool of mercy
Pleading Thy promise we bend!


“There shall be showers of blessing,”
Promise that never can fail;
Thou wilt regard our petition;
Surely our faith will prevail.


Showers of blessing, we need them,
Showers of blessing from Thee;
Showers of blessing, oh, grant them,
Thine all the glory shall be.


Home at Last!

Today started, as most Saturdays do, with a trip to Walmart to buy groceries. Jasper also needed shoes and sandals. His last pair of sandals broke within a fortnight and his sneakers were literally hanging in shreds from his feet. That kid is very, very hard on footwear.

I am still having some serious stomach issues, which is kind of discouraging. I didn’t feel well at all when I left this afternoon for Dallas. Fortunately, I did perk up a little bit as I drove along. Thanks to a traffic delay, Walter was already out and waiting for me when I drove up to the gate.

We stopped for supper on the way home (after which: much tummy pain) and were very glad to finally get here. Poor Walter had to go right to work on the water heater, which is not a fun job at the best of times, but especially not after traveling for several hours! I am willing to stay up late to get a hot shower though . . .

Caped Crusader

A few days ago a friend posted a link to my Facebook timeline. The link proposed the idea that Edna Mode from the movie The Incredibles is the superhero for those of us who sew.

The Incredibles

I’ve got to admit, the idea has appeal. I love Edna’s character. One of the things I love most about Edna is that she refused to include a cape in Mr. Incredible’s “super suit,” and for excellent reasons.

It so happened that at the time my friend posted the link, I was working on a superhero cape, albeit somewhat against my will. Lucy volunteered me to make it for one of her friends. It turned out to be a much more complicated process than you might think, and it took a considerable amount of effort and time, during which I thought many thoughts about capes and may have growled in frustration more than once.

As you know, I make cloaks on a regular basis, and if you own a cloak, you know that it is extremely irritating when someone refers to it as a “cape,” because this shows a lack of basic knowledge. It’s not just the fact that a cloak has a hood and a cape does not. It’s more (at least for me) that a cloak is a useful garment and a cape is not.

Cloaks were indispensable for hundreds of years. They served as a warm outer garment, a blanket, and a sleeping bag. They fit anyone and could be passed down to one’s offspring. They could have any number of pockets in which to store things and they kept out wind and rain if well made.

A cape does none of these things. A cape usually hangs behind the wearer and the most you can say is that maybe it keeps his or her back a little warmer than it might otherwise be. I found myself wondering how the superhero cape came to be a “thing.” Surely, if superheroes were real, capes would get in their way all the time. They would catch on things and swirl into one’s face at the most inopportune moments. As Edna pointed out, they are just plain impractical.

I pondered this for a long time as I was working on the cape. I came to the conclusion that some artist dreamed up the idea because capes most admittedly do look cool. According to my research, the cape was also often an indicator that a character could fly. Because obviously a little rectangle of fabric will help you defy gravity, right?

Some part of me thinks that some comic book artist didn’t like or wasn’t good at drawing his character from behind, so he thought he’d just cover it with a cape and be done with it. So much easier, right? Or maybe the character was self-conscious about his backside and the artist felt obligated to give in to that little weakness. Who knows?

The point is that I made a cape and now it’s done. I have no plans to make another. Don’t even think of asking.

Also, I am feeling much better and hoping this household can hold together until my husband’s return tomorrow night. I feel bad that he’s coming home to a lengthy “to-do” list!

On the Mend

I had a much better night’s sleep last night and a better beginning to the day as a result. I was far from full strength, but I knew the worst was over. While trying to decide whether or not to have my class, I did some research and discovered that I am most likely still contagious. Also, by the time I found that out I was already beginning to tire and realized I would never make it through an afternoon of teaching. So, no class.

Lucy and her friends slept in quite late after last night’s painting party. Lucy has been wanting to paint the stairwell that leads to her room for some time now. This is the stairwell that once hosted Mary’s one-of-a-kind Lord of the Rings gallery. The gallery is now gone, but the marks it left behind made already-dingy walls even more unsightly. I figured if Lucy was gung-ho to do it, and she had friends to help her, why not?

That was only Phase One of her plan however. Phase Two involved painting her bedroom also. This room has not been painted since we moved in 13 years ago, and is long overdue for an upgrade. She picked a light bluish aqua color for the walls and a darker shade for the trim.

I can’t show you photos because nothing is actually finished yet. The stairwell needs more work, though it already looks so much better than it did, and the bedroom also is not finished yet. I’m hoping it will all be done before Walter gets home!

Since today was my recovery day, I was up and down a lot. I’d get up and feel pretty good, only to head back to bed after an hour or so. I guess I needed the rest. I also boiled 4 gallons of water so I could wash a bunch of dishes, and then went out and bought Styrofoam plates and bowls to use until we get our hot water back!

Then I heated up 6 gallons of water so I could have a very skimpy lukewarm bath. It felt good to be clean! Tomorrow I may take one of my neighbors up on the offer for a hot shower.

I’ve tried to do some stuff online but my internet has been so bad today I don’t even know if I’ll be able to post this!

Also, Mary posted about today being the 8-year anniversary of the night she first met and fell for her husband, Jordan. That was a very memorable night. I drove a whole van full of kids over to meet Jordan, who was on tour with his choir. I drove home with a smitten Mary in the van and the rest, as they say, was history!