Better Late Than Never

Today I got up early to make Jasper his belated birthday breakfast in bed. That meant he had to sleep in later than usual, because I was not willing to get up early enough to have his breakfast ready by 7:00!

He loved his breakfast and took his time eating it. A little later I took Lucy to the credit union to open a checking and savings account so she will be able to use a debit card when she is in Germany. She feels very grown up now.

After we were done at the credit union, I dropped Lucy off at her friend Martha’s house and then continued on to a pack-and-mail place. Flynn wanted me to ship him one of his computers that he had left in the apartment. I could not find a sturdy enough box so I had to resort to the pros. The cost was a little jaw-dropping, but I hope it will arrive safely.

This afternoon Jasper had his piano lesson. It was a beautiful day–sunny, but not too hot. I just wish I felt better! I am still battling allergies, headaches, and soreness.

Tonight Jasper is sleeping outdoors with a neighbor friend. I am hoping to hit the hay early so I can get up and write in the morning.

Advertisements

Catching Up

Yesterday, I taught my last two classes of the semester. Now all I have to do is grade several thousand papers, calculate grades, and have a nervous breakdown.

Today I finally got to do the grocery shopping I should have done on Saturday. I also did some banking, mailed some chai mix, took Lucy to Walmart, and made it to my critique group, where my latest installment was shredded even more than usual, which means more revising in my future!

After that I yawned my way through the writers’ meeting. Not because I was bored–I just was feeling tired and really struggling with some headaches. Trying to get to bed earlier tonight!

I would appreciate prayer for Mary and Jordan also. Their only vehicle broke down as they were on their way to visit friends today. After being towed to a mechanic, they were told that repairing the car would likely cost more than it is worth. They were planning to come visit us next week for Spencer’s graduation, and we were all really looking forward to it! Pray that God will lead them to the next step. They do not have much in the way of resources.

 

Ambivalent

I’m not sure what to say about yesterday’s visit to a Renaissance faire. I have very strong feelings about it. Very strong very mixed feelings. The faire we attended yesterday is a new faire, just finishing its first season. It’s a faire that I have been referring to as the “spite faire” ever since I learned of the plans to open it a year ago.

There were some people associated with my “home” faire who had a falling out with the faire owner. They were angry, bitter and disgruntled. One of them happens to own a large piece of land in a pretty good location, so they put their heads together and decided to start their own faire and to run it in direct competition with “my” faire. In fact some of them came right out and said that their goal was to put “my” faire out of business.

Now the reality is that if they had chosen to have their faire at a different time of year, I would have been thrilled to support them and promote them in any way I could. However, I have a huge problem with any enterprise that is founded out of motives of spite or revenge. I was further grieved when I discovered that several people whom I thought were loyal to the “old” faire had in fact defected to the “new” faire. And others, who claimed they were getting out of the renfaire business, were in fact also defecting to the new faire.

I was deeply dismayed when “my” faire was cancelled for this year, in part because the appearance was that it had surrendered without even putting up a fight. The reality was much more complicated, and involved business and land tax issues. So, suddenly the “new” faire had no competition at all, and I had no faire to go to. Last year I went virtually every weekend in the spring, and worked doing interviews and helping out at a booth.

This year I have had so much going on every weekend that it would have been difficult to get to the faire even once or twice, but I sure did miss it. I was also very curious about the new faire. I decided that it wouldn’t be disloyal for me to go check it out, seeing as “my” faire had been cancelled. I thought it would be a fun birthday excursion for Jasper, so we planned to go on Saturday, which was his birthday.

Then, of course, we found out that we would be spending Saturday at the bee farm, and that meant that if we were going to go at all, it would have to be yesterday (Sunday) because that was the very last day of the faire’s five-week run. So, we played hooky and went–Jasper, Lucy and me.

This faire is much closer and more convenient–only about a 20 minute drive away. Walking through the gate was more than a little surreal. Everywhere we looked, we saw familiar people and familiar booths. Our beloved “white tent” was there with its kindly proprietor.

4-26-15 white tent

As we walked through the heavily wooded area, we came upon booth after booth that we recognized. People we had gotten to know well over the last 12 years greeted us from their new locations, and almost all the performers we saw were familiar.

I wasn’t sure how to react. I was glad to see them, but at the same time it hurt to see them somewhere new. In most cases, I didn’t know which ones had defected out of spite and which ones had scrambled to find a new place to do business when they found out that the other faire had been cancelled. It was very unsettling.

However, even with all that emotional baggage, it was good to be at a faire. The faire (“my” faire) has always been my happy place. I enjoyed sitting and listening to a musical performance, while savoring the lovely outdoor setting. After a very stressful few months, I needed this little break. One of the things that had decided me on going was the fact that they had a bird of prey show, and that was definitely a highlight for all three of us.

This is a beautiful African augur:

4-26-15 open mouthed man & hawk

I love how both the man and the bird have their mouths open in this photo.

And the real star of the show, a European Eagle Owl:

4-26-15 European eagle owl

This particular owl is the very one used in the Harry Potter movies–which I’ve never seen. Gorgeous bird.

We had lunch at a table in a heavily wooded area. At “our” faire, the food was so-so and overpriced. At this faire, the food was also overpriced, but we ate at this Greek place:

 4-26-15 greek food

And it was fabulous.

Since no one had offered us a program or schedule, it was a little frustrating trying to figure out what to do and where to go. We knew that we wanted to see a joust, and it looked like one was imminent, what with a fanfare being blown and all. There was no seating near the arena–none whatever. I was glad to have my chair, but the bars on the fence were placed in such a way that if I sat down, I would see nothing!

As it turns out, the joust was canceled, apparently due to a horse injury. I was disappointed. I was very curious to see how the horses handled jousting on such a short field with almost no turnaround space on the ends.

We found a shady place to sit down, and figured we would just wait to see who showed up to perform. Jasper asked permission to check out some booths we hadn’t been to yet, and I let him go. Moments later he was back, saying he had seen our friend Elliot. Neither Lucy nor I believed him, because we both thought that Elliot was working another faire near Dallas. Lucy finally agreed to go with Jasper, just to make sure, so off they went.

Minutes later I got a text from Lucy saying “It’s him.” She didn’t say where they were, so that’s what got me going in search of my kids. Which led to my fall. Which led to my showing up at Elliot’s booth looking very disheveled, and the kids asking me, “Why are you covered with leaves and sawdust?”

Since I was in dire need of a sit-down by that time, I set up my chair and sat down and we stayed for quite a while visiting with Elliot when he didn’t have customers.

4-26-15 Jasper and Elliot

That was the most “normal” part of the day for all of us, I think. By the time I was recovered enough to walk, we decided to just head home.

So what was my honest evaluation of this new faire, all feelings aside? Well, it’s pretty fantastic for a first-year faire. They had some great performers, most of whom I knew. Everything we saw was family friendly, although they did have a mead stand. They have a pond and a stream and lots of shade (and mosquitos).

4-26-15 stream

They have more and tastier food options. They are quite inexpensive, as faires go–$12. They really need some seating for the joust, which I can’t comment on because they didn’t have one yesterday. They ought to have a blacksmith, in my opinion. Hopefully they will also get some real bathrooms. They had porta-potties but nowhere to wash your hands or refill your water bottle without paying an arm and a leg.

I loved the bird of prey show. The big faire we went to in Houston had one, but it was so huge we couldn’t get close enough to even see the birds. This time we were part of an audience of maybe 20 people. So much better. Parking is limited, which will keep this faire from growing if they can’t find more parking space. It was almost full by the time we left yesterday.

So, I’m not sorry I went, but I still can’t come to grips with how I feel about the whole thing. Also, I’ve been designing my own faire in my head all day.

And yes, I am sore–but also very thankful I’m not hurt worse.

Faith is the Victory

Faith is the Victory

John H. Yates

Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise.
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled.
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.

Refrain

Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory, that overcomes the world.

His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God.
We tread the road the saints above
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath,
Swept on o’er every field.
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield.

Refrain

On every hand the foe we find
Drawn up in dread array.
Let tents of ease be left behind,
And onward to the fray.
Salvation’s helmet on each head,
With truth all girt about,
The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread,
And echo with our shout.

Refrain

To him that overcomes the foe,
White raiment shall be giv’n.
Before the angels he shall know
His name confessed in Heav’n.
Then onward from the hill of light,
Our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night,
In Jesus’ conqu’ring Name.

Refrain

Ephesians 6:10-18  New International Version (NIV)

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God,so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvationand the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

 

Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall–And No One Laughed

Okay, I know I normally don’t blog on Sunday, and this isn’t a real blog. It’s just an observation, really. Today, I was at a Renaissance Faire, and the ground was very soft and uneven, and somehow I missed my footing and I fell. (I know it sounds like a lame excuse, but that’s better than just admitting I’m a total klutz.)

It was rather spectacular. When someone my size falls, there’s no such thing as a “little” fall. I was in search of my children, and I was carrying my chair over one shoulder, my bag over the other shoulder, with my (nice) camera around my neck and my umbrella in my hand. It was one of those slow-motion experiences when you realize you are starting to fall, and you try desperately to regain your footing, all the while knowing it’s a lost cause, and then SLAM! You fall flat on your face, on top of your camera and your bag containing your cell phone.

Lots of people saw me fall. It was so humiliating. But here’s the thing that I can’t get over. Even before I actually hit the ground, people were running to help me.  Before I caught my breath, I had three concerned people hovering over me, asking me if I was all right, helping me to my feet, telling me to stop and calm down before trying to walk anywhere. They were full of concern.

This is, as far as I can remember, the third time in the last 20 years that I’ve had a bad fall in front of an audience. (There was a prizewinning fall that no one saw, thank goodness.) Each time, bystanders rushed to my aid. Each time they showed nothing but concern and kindness. Each time, not a single person laughed or made fun of me.

After all these years, I still expect the ridicule, and am so deeply grateful to be met with concern instead. I loved growing up in central Africa, but one of the drawbacks was that whenever someone fell down, even if they injured themselves, everyone stood around laughing hysterically and mocking the unfortunate person who fell. No one offered to help. I’m not sure what the cultural reason for this was, but I grew up absolutely terrified of tripping and falling because let’s face it, that by itself is embarrassing enough without getting jeered at as well.

I was shaking for well over an hour after my fall, but the consequences appear to be relatively minor. Despite the fact that I fell on my camera, the ground was soft and the camera appears to still be functional. (That was the thing I was really worried about.) My cell phone also appears to be operational. My body is going to be sore. My knees, one ankle and my chest and shoulders are all banged up. But, nothing is broken. It could have been so much worse!

In Which Someone Has a Birthday, Someone Runs a Half-Marathon, Some Ladies Arrive, and Someone Has a Meltdown and Lets a Thirteen-Year-Old Kid Drive Her Car

Yep. It’s been one of those days. Today is Jasper’s 14th birthday, and instead of celebrating by going to a Renaissance Faire, we had to get up early to go learn more about bees before bringing a hive home. Early as we were up, Mary was up earlier preparing for and then running her first half marathon! She did well and we are so proud of her! Here is a photo she posted after the race:

 4-25-15 Mary after half marathon

So anyway, Jasper and I took off for the bee farm, and I realized I had lost the directions and couldn’t remember how to get there. I pulled over at a gas station and called Dick, the guy whose place it is, and he gave me directions. The only problem was that he told me to turn left on “25” and when we found “25,” it only went right. So I made things much worse by trying to find the route with my GPS.

It was bad. The GPS was royally confused and kept telling us to turn onto the north side of the highway instead of the south. Here it was Jasper’s birthday, and I’m totally failing to get him to his bee class. I was so stressed. There were tears. Finally, after driving around for more than an hour, we found one of the roads we needed. (It turned out that “25” was actually “21.”)We still drove several miles on it the wrong way before turning around, but once we were going in the right direction we found our destination without further incident, unless you call my being a complete basket case an incident.

Since we got there an hour late, Jasper missed getting to watch the others in their bee suits doing stuff with the hives. In fact we had to walk through clouds of angry bees to the shed where we assumed that Jasper would get some further instruction. Amazingly, we did not get stung, despite the fact that we were both wearing dark clothing (a beekeeping no-no).

We waited for an hour or so before Dick was able to pay some attention to Jasper. He instructed another boy to show Jasper how to make frames and boxes for hives, so he’d be able to make his own in the future. This boy Gabe is, in my eyes, the hero of the day. He has red hair and freckles and is unfailingly polite and helpful. He patiently helped Jasper construct multiple frames and boxes. Jasper learned how to operate a staple gun and a nail gun.

By noon, everyone had gone for lunch except for Gabe and Jasper and me. Gabe had brought a sack lunch, but we had not. Since Jasper was having such a good time learning to build stuff, I offered to go get us some lunch. The air between me and the Suburban was full of thousands of angry bees. Thousands and thousands. Since I hadn’t been stung on the way in, I figured I’d just hope for good luck again on the way out, but I was dreading it.

Then Gabe spoke up. “Do you want me to go get your car for you? I can drive it right up to the shed and you can get in without having to go through all the bees.”

“How old are you?” I asked. I mean, he sure didn’t look 16.

“Thirteen,” he said proudly. “But I can drive anything, even if it has a manual transmission.”

At that moment, letting a thirteen-year-old drive my car seemed a lot more appealing than running the bee gauntlet, so I tossed him my keys.  He did a great job of driving the car up to the shed. After that I still had to back it out between the rows of hives, with the windows shut in the stifling heat, but I managed it without destroying anything.

I had to drive a LONG way to get food, but Jasper was happy to get it! I noticed that Gabe refrained from eating his own lunch until Jasper also had something to eat. Someone is raising that boy right.

Eventually, everyone else returned, and it was time to think about getting our hive. The snag was that Jasper’s bee suit had not arrived. He borrowed Gabe’s and helped load the hive into the back of the Suburban.

This is not a brand new hive, as I had expected. Dick gave Jasper a fully functional hive that is well-established. I realized at that point why everyone else was driving pickup trucks. We had to drive almost an hour to get home with a hive full of bees in the car with us. Please tell me it was brave of me to do that. It was actually pretty terrifying.

Once we got home, it turned out the hive was too heavy for Jasper to carry back to the stand that Walter had made for it. Walter and Lucy had carry it back there with nothing but vinegar for protection. Believe it or not, no one got stung. We had a day full of bees and no one got stung. Now we have a hive full of ladies in our back yard.

4-25-15 new hive

I really should have gone out grocery shopping tonight, but the last couple of days have been very exhausting and I just don’t want to go back out. Instead I’m staying in to watch a movie with the birthday boy, since Walter has to work and everyone else has abandoned us too.

Parting Shot

Jasper a few years ago:

Jasper with paper airplanes

Jasper a few weeks ago:

3-7-15 Jasper in castle ruins

A Bittersweet Day

I hardly know where to start with today. We got up and started getting ready to go to Dallas. After moving to Colorado, Flynn admitted that he had actually left a bunch of stuff in his old apartment in Dallas, and that we would need to clear it out and clean it up before the lease ran out. So, he mailed us the key, and this morning we hitched up our small white trailer and set off for Dallas.

The first part was the fun part. We went to one of our favorite Indian grocery stores and I picked up most of the spices I need for chai mix, and a few other odds and ends. By then it was lunch time, and one of our favorite Indian restaurants was just up the road, so we stopped there for a fabulous lunch. Then we stopped at a second Indian store to get the last thing I needed before heading to Flynn’s apartment.

Flynn had rather understated the amount of stuff left behind, and the amount of cleaning needed to leave his apartment in good shape. We started emptying cupboards and packing boxes. I had hoped to find time to visit my aunt, but it didn’t seem possible with so much work to do. However, once we had most of the boxes packed, Walter suggested that Lucy and I go to visit my aunt while he and Jasper stayed behind to clean. The trailer had already been unhitched in order to fit in the parking lot, so Lucy and I took off.

It was an incredibly stressful drive. My phone’s GPS was more than a little confused, and it took us over an hour and a half through rush hour traffic to finally get to the nursing home. By then, my aunt was already sitting at a table waiting for her supper. I was able to visit with her for a few minutes, and this time she was able to respond to things I said to her.

We drove back through a massive thunderstorm. When we stopped to pick up some supper, we both got soaked to the skin. We ate supper in the bare apartment, waiting for the storm to blow past. It was pretty sad sitting there in Flynn’s apartment with no Flynn. The last few things were loaded and then Walter vacuumed everything one more time before loading the vacuum cleaner. We finally left a little after 9:00.

It was a long, wet drive home and when we finally got here, we found that little mouse Claudia Threefoot had died during our absence.

 Claudia 4

She was very old for a mouse–over two years old. She was pretty alert and active right up to the end. Last night when I fed her was the first time ever that she seemed a little frail to me. She was a sweet mouse and we will miss her.

Parting Shot:

 4-24-15 sky

The evening sky after the storm blew through.

One Down, Two to Go

Well, sorry for my silence last night. We have reached the time of year when I just want to crawl in a hole and hibernate until the middle of May. There does not seem to be a way to escape the busy-ness of April. I was up late grading and did not come close to getting done.

This morning I took a break from grading to mail out more chai mix and to take some to the park to deliver to a fellow homeschool mom who had ordered some. Every little bit helps!

Today was my last high school class for this school year. (Insert enthusiastic cheering and dance of joy here.) My students had to say their memory poems and take a vocabulary test before getting to the fun part, which was watching the second half of The Winslow Boy. The kids had brought some great snacks and drinks, so it was a nice way to end the semester. Of course, I still have some grading to finish up, but that was our last class. Two more classes on Monday and then I get a brief break before I start my summer classes!

A Birthday, a Lunch, and an Imminent Arrival

Today (April 21) is my daughter Mary’s birthday. It’s hard to believe she is 24 already. Here is what she looked like at 5 months old:

 Mary at 5 months

And at 2 (when we were living in Zambia):

 Mary age 2

One of her earliest birthday breakfasts in bed:

 Mary breakfast in bed.

And finally, a recent photo:

 Mary

Since she is coming for a visit soon, we will celebrate her birthday when she gets here. I am so proud of her for so many reasons. Can’t wait to see her!

Today I got some chai mix in the mail before heading out to meet my friend Darlene for lunch and deliver still more chai mix. We had agreed to try out the little Thai restaurant downtown. It’s actually called “Lil Thai House,” and they aren’t kidding about the “little!” It’s a tiny place with a tiny kitchen and a handful of tables.

The food was delicious–but then I’ve never had Thai food I didn’t like. I wish I had thought to whip out my phone and take a couple of photos of the kitchen, though, because then I’d have proof to show you that I was wrong about something.

One of my biggest beefs about the series Star Trek: Voyager is the unrealistic portrayal of food preparation. Refrigerators displaying one or two carefully curated items, when they’re supposedly servicing a crew of 140+, for instance. But possibly the thing that bugged me the most were the giant cauldrons bubbling over burners with foot-high flames. Nobody cooks like that, right? Higher flames don’t make the food taste better, and they’re a fire hazard on a space ship! Surely if they had fuel to zoom through space faster than the speed of light, they could come up with some sort of electric burner, right?

Well, today, in the Thai restaurant, I saw multiple stir-fry pans sitting on stove burners with massive flames. I could hardly believe my eyes. It looked very dangerous! Especially in that tiny kitchen with people trying to get past each other and cook food at a frantic pace. But the pans on the burners looked like nothing so much as a collection of Neelix’s concoctions.

We had a lovely lunch, and stayed talking until after the lunch crowd had left. After getting home, I did some other stuff and then I saw I had a message to call the man who runs the beekeeping scholarship program. I learned a very important piece of information–we’re getting our bees on Saturday! This really mucks up my plans for Saturday, but it’s not as if we can put it off.

Parting Shot:

 4-21-15 Mary's Rose

Mary’s rose. A grandparent of this rose was blooming when little Mary was born 24 years ago. When Mary and Jordan get their own place, we’ll root a cutting of this rose bush for them to plant.

Outstanding

Sunday was pretty quiet around here, though I do admit I made some pretty awesome meatloaf that was half turkey and half venison.

This morning I was busy working with Jasper on his schoolwork and preparing for my classes, when I took a break to take a shower. Then I got a text from my husband reminding me that today was the awards chapel on campus. Yikes! I had completely forgotten! I’m not crazy about going out in public with wet hair, but I didn’t even have time to use a hair dryer. Jasper and I got into the car and drove over to the chapel on campus. Mercy had been told that she should definitely attend the awards chapel.

Walter met us there and we got prime seats in the balcony. It’s a good thing we got there on time, because Mercy was the very first person called up, to receive the ‘Outstanding Theology Student” award. We are so proud of her. She works very hard to do well in school and her professors obviously appreciate it. (I did take a photo but at the moment my computer won’t let me download anything.

After chapel I waited to hug Mercy before rushing back to finish preparing for my classes. Caffeine was required. Next Monday will be my last class for this school year, and I can’t wait! I’ll get a couple of weeks off before starting my summer classes.

Quote of the Day:

As Jasper and I drove up to the chapel, Mercy was just arriving also. Was she happy to see her family coming to cheer her on and support her? Not exactly. These are her actual words to us: “Why are you here? Go away! This is embarrassing!”