Note Memory

To be honest, almost anything would have been an improvement after yesterday. Today I did have a little more energy and was able to be more productive. The major fly in my ointment was that my printer suddenly ran out of ink in the middle of printing out stuff for my students this afternoon! I was able to photocopy one thing on my husband’s printer and email the kids the other files, but it was frustrating. I go through more ink and paper than anyone else I know!

I also got some things of Lina’s sorted out, did some paperwork, and started working on my presentation for the writers’ workshop I’ll be teaching at. I am presenting material that I’ve presented before, but in the interval I have (of course) thought of ways to improve it. I guess that means I’m going to have to take a refresher course in PowerPoint . . .

I also chorded some hymns for autoharp. Two of them are easy ones from the hymnbook, but the third one is a special case, and highlights why I love playing the autoharp so much. When I was growing up in Zambia, we often sang a hymn titled, “At Even, Ere the Sun Was Set.” I loved the tune and I loved the hymn.

When I arrived here in the States, I looked for that hymn in every hymnbook I encountered. It wasn’t in any of them. Eventually, I got the brilliant idea of buying a used copy of the hymnbook we had actually used when I was a kid. It had to come from Ireland, as there were no copies available in the USA. I was so happy when it came. I went right to that hymn, and guess what? The words were there, but the tune in the hymnbook was not the one I knew and loved!

Over the next several years, I tried repeatedly to find that tune, with zero success. Now, however, it’s no longer an issue, because I have an instrument to play and a very accurate memory for tunes. I was able to figure out the chords for that tune in about fifteen minutes! My autoharp teacher has told me that this ability is not common—to be able to hear in my head and reproduce a tune I haven’t actually heard for decades. I am very grateful for it. It means I can finally hear again tunes from my childhood that have lived only in my head all these years.


Today was a struggle. I have these days, a couple of times a month, when I am overcome with exhaustion and have a hard time functioning. Today was one of those days. In fact, my exhaustion was so debilitating that I kind of wonder if I might be coming down with something.

Despite ingesting more than twice as much caffeine as usual, I struggled to get through the day. I did manage to make it through both my classes and then got a quick nap in before heading off to my critique group and writers meeting. I really hope tomorrow is better.

Meanwhile, Lucy landed in Florida this morning and will be returning home on Thursday evening. She is ready to be home and I am ready to see her!

The End of a Math Book

Today I attempted to teach a long-distance class via Skype. It worked very well for the first few minutes, but then my student couldn’t hear me anymore. I could still see and hear him just fine. We ended up finishing the class on the phone.

Meanwhile, Jasper carried out his cherished plan of burning the math book he just finished. It gave him a lot of satisfaction but made the house smell very smoky! As promised, I am giving him this week off from school.

After my long-distance class, I had a little over an hour to eat lunch and prepare for my afternoon class. We are working on our second type of essay now and I am pleased with how the two girls are doing.

Lucy called this afternoon, enjoying her last day in Puerto Rico. They will be flying to Florida very early in the morning and she will finally be home on Thursday evening. It will be good to see her again!

I finished knitting another dishcloth and planned a rather ambitious knitting project. I am a glutton for punishment.

Photo Supplement

This is a supplemental post relating to Saturday’s Celtic Fest excursion. Lucy has my camera, so the only photos I could take were on my phone, and my phone is getting a little eccentric in its old age, so it took several tries before I was able to download the photos!

6-25-16 piper

Here’s the piper with his great pipes. He also had small pipes!

6-25-16 Elliot juggling

Our friend Elliot juggling. One bratty kid kept demanding that he make himself disappear, and he said, “I doing that one for my mother right now!”

6-25-16 Carol Leos

Singer Carol Leos, who apparently went to the same school as me in Kenya.

6-225-16 Goodman museum

A better view of the beautiful Goodman Museum.

6-25-16 lizard

One of the two lizards I saw at this event. The first one was riding around on his mistress’s head. She (the lady) was wearing a bandanna and he looked very ornamental. Please note that the one in this photo has a leash that is attached to a bracelet his mistress is wearing. She also tried putting him on her head but his claws got stuck in her hair.

Onward, Christian Soldiers

I just noticed that the tune to this hymn was written by Arthur S. Sullivan, of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Onward, Christian Soldiers

Sabine Baring-Gould

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!


Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.


Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.


What the saints established that I hold for true.
What the saints believèd, that I believe too.
Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.


Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.


Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.


A Festival and a Stalker

Today was my big outing. I missed Lucy, as she would have loved to go with me, but I know she had fun in Puerto Rico!

I was on the road by 8:30, heading for nearby Tyler, Texas, which is almost an hour’s drive away. The Celtic Fest didn’t start till 10:00, but I wanted to be sure to get there early so I could get a good parking space. This is one of the things I’ve learned over the years. I’d rather arrive early and wait if it means I don’t have to park in another zip code—and in this case, the festival was on the grounds of a downtown museum.

I had actually hoped to arrive an hour early, but even at half an hour early I got a great parking space and sat in my car while I ate my breakfast. I was walking through the gates a few minutes before 10:00, and as I walked past one of the first booths I was greeted by name. The family that runs that booth is in my homeschool group and they vend at other faires I attend also.

Minutes later I was greeted by Elliot and Destynnie, other faire friends. So even though this was a brand-new festival, I already had friends. The first show on the agenda was the bagpiper. He looked very authentic, and even had hand-knit kilt hose, but the effect was a little bit tarnished for me when I heard his very Southern drawl!

Another thing I did in the morning was to watch the fight demonstrations put on by the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). I felt sorry for the people fighting as they had multiple layers of padding on and it was very hot and humid. The heat index was above 100 degrees for most of the day.

One thing that happened was that while I was watching the fight demos, I occasionally looked up and saw a man who appeared to be looking at me. He was a middle-aged Mexican man. I thought nothing of it. In fact I was quite sure he must be looking at someone else who happened to be seated near me.

Then the demo was over and I realized it was lunchtime. The only regular food concession sold nachos and baked potatoes, neither of which I can have, so I bought a little cone of roasted pecans from one of the vendors and headed out to my car to eat them for lunch.

It was such a relief to turn on the air conditioner in the car and cool off a little bit. Once I was more comfortable, I saw I had almost half an hour before the next show I wanted to see, so I set a timer for 15 minutes and just leaned back and closed my eyes. I didn’t fall asleep, just dozed a little.

When I  opened my eyes, I found myself looking right into the eyes of the Mexican man. He was (thankfully) standing on the other side of the fence, but he was very close and he was just standing there staring. I thought when he realized I saw him he would withdraw, but no. He just kept staring at me. It made me very uncomfortable, and it puzzled me too. What kind of guy would stalk a fat middle-aged housewife?

I considered my options. I knew Spencer and his friend were on the way to the very same festival. No man in his right mind would mess with Spencer, so I called him to see where he was and he was still half an hour away. I hated being trapped in my car. I finally decided to head back in to the festival and count on safety in numbers. As I walked through the gate, I did not look to see if the guy was still there (although it took some effort!). I never saw him again and still have no idea what he was after!

Spencer arrived and he and his friend watched some shows with me. There was a lady who sang and did a great job. After arriving home, I discovered that she attended the same boarding school as me in Kenya, but for some reason I don’t know her. I wish I had struck up a conversation with her!

A little later, as I was waiting for Elliot’s show to start, I was surprised by the arrival of my dear friend Sybil. I had told her I would be there as I knew she lives nearby, but I hadn’t heard back from her. We enjoyed Elliot’s show together (magic and juggling). By then I was really starting to wilt in the heat, so we decided to go to Sybil’s house and visit for a bit before I returned for the last forty-five minutes of the festival.

What a relief it was to walk into an air-conditioned house! Sybil brought a chair for me to put my feet up on, and a damp hand towel to drape over my head. It was surprisingly refreshing! Then she made us some nice cold smoothies to sip on as we talked. I felt downright pampered.

All too soon, our time was up and I headed back to the festival. I was hoping to get some herbs from Destynnie, but she had already packed up and left. I was more than compensated when I ran into a couple of other friends whom I was very happy to see. After chatting a few minutes with them, I headed on out as I had another stop to make before going home.

I drove clear to the other side of town and went into World Market to get the “good” chocolate sprinkles. I also used some birthday money to get a bag. I ordered one from Amazon back at the beginning of April, and it never arrived, so I went ahead and got a similar bag from World Market.

I enjoyed the air-conditioned drive home and was talking to Lucy for part of the way (hands free, of course!). Most of the evening I’ve been working on the music for tomorrow. That is enjoyable for me also, so it’s been a pretty good day!




Note: I spent two hours trying to post this last night but my internet connection would not cooperate.

Today, I am one year older than I was yesterday, even though today felt just like any other day! Although I didn’t receive even one card in the mail, I greatly enjoyed reading birthday greetings online as I ate my breakfast.

Then, just as I was ready to leave for Aldi, Lucy called from Puerto Rico and we had a nice chat. This time she was actually on the beach when she called me.

After several uneventful trips to Aldi recently, today’s trip provided another chance to see an interesting snippet of someone else’s life. A mother and her teenage son entered the store at about the same time I did, so we kept sharing the same aisles at the same time. The son was probably about 15 or 16, and judging from the way he talked he most likely was either on the autism spectrum or had some mild learning disability.

The mother was like a drill sergeant. She lectured and badgered him all the way through the store. “Now you can pick out a couple of kinds of cereal, but only if they cost between 10 and 12 cents an ounce. NOT THAT ONE! Can’t you read? That’s more than 12 cents an ounce!” It was like that every minute, all the time. He couldn’t do anything right. She was trying to force him to compare prices and he clearly tried to cooperate, but he was never fast enough for her. I’m sure all the pressure didn’t help.

Every now and then he’d look up and catch my eye, and I’d give him what I hoped was an encouraging smile, and he’d smile back. He seemed like a nice kid. When we were about three-quarters of the way through the store, I happened to be very close to them and the kid gave me a huge smile. I flashed him my biggest smile in return. He turned to his mom and said, “That dress looks nice on her.” Whereupon the mother grabbed his arm and jerked him away instantly. I never saw them again.

This puzzled me. I don’t know anything about their situation so I have no idea why the mom was so harsh and impatient with him. But why punish him for saying something nice about someone? I don’t understand. *sigh*

I got back just in time for lunch and then after that I had my class to teach, and then after running a quick errand, I got a phone call from Lina and we talked for almost two hours! Right after that I also got to talk to Mercy before running out to Walmart for a few things.

Although today was my birthday, we did not have my celebratory dinner since we will wait for Lucy’s return. However, I did want to have a nice meal so I made roast beef, a treat which we enjoy only a couple of times a year. Cooking was greatly complicated by the fact that our kitchen faucet died yesterday. Anytime I needed to do something with water, I had to go to the bathroom!

So, after supper Walter and I had to make the trip to Lowe’s to pick out a new faucet. Our last one did not hold up very well, so we tried to pick one that wasn’t too chintzy but also not too pricy. It took him all evening to install it, but it’s up and running now, thank goodness!

While he was doing that, Flynn called, so I spent most of the rest of the evening talking to him. I sure do miss having my kids around!

Tomorrow, I am treating myself to an outing. It’s going to be hot, but I hope it will also be enjoyable!

Social Studies

No sewing for me this morning. I had sort of committed to going to a social studies curriculum share meeting tonight, so I had a bunch of work to do to get ready. It meant Jasper had to miss his bee meeting, and that I had to do a bunch of updating and create some new materials. But if someone wants to talk about geography, I’m there.

Of course I also did a bunch of math with Jasper. And then after lunch I taught my class. Tomorrow they turn in their first essays! Today I bored them almost to death with a revision work session.

Meanwhile, I had a worrisome talk with Mercy about some health issues she’s been having. I really hope we can figure out what is going on! Please pray for her.

I made pizza for the family before leaving for my meeting. Once I got there, I was kind of sorry I hadn’t had time to pull together all my history resources also. I kind of got the impression that I am more into social studies than some of the other ladies. I can’t help myself. I think my approach to geography went beyond what most people are interested in, but I also think that maybe I need to follow through on publishing it as an actual curriculum, which I’ve been thinking about for some time.

Two Days in June

I promise you, yesterday did happen here. I was just too tired to blog by the time I got to the end of the day. In the morning before class yesterday, I cut out a sewing project, taking advantage of the cleared dining room table.

After class I had to run some errands, and I might have come home with more dishcloth cotton in addition to the stuff I actually went for.

In the evening,  Jasper and I watched the first half of The Two Towers, and then I got some sewing done. Then I got sucked into doing some editing, which is why I didn’t blog.

Today after doing math with  Jasper, I finished preparing for my class. I enjoy working with these two girls. Then Jasper and I had to take his robot back to the extension agent. Jasper built a cool robot and programmed it to pick up a plastic cup. It will be used at a 4-H event this weekend.

Then we went to Walmart as I needed some meds and Jasper “needed” epoxy putty. He is quite a skilled Nerf gun modifier these days.

Also this afternoon, I received a phone call from an exuberant Lucy in Puerto Rico. She went swimming and surfing in the ocean today! She was talking to me from a rooftop terrace from which she could see the ocean, and which was next to a huge mango tree. She is loving every minute!

We finished off the day with the rest of The Two Towers and a tiny bit of sewing for me. Maybe I’ll get more done in the morning!

A Departure, A Boy, An Anvil, & the Strawberry Moon

A lot has happened in the last 48 hours. Why do I keep thinking that summer is going to be relaxing?

I had to get up at 6:00 on Sunday morning in order to be ready to drive Lucy to the home of her friend Chandler, which is a little over a half-hour drive away. I don’t know if I’ve explained that this trip is a combination geography field trip and senior trip, courtesy of Chandler’s family. This past school year, my geography class consisted of three senior girls: Lucy, Haley, and Chandler. Chandler’s mother is from Puerto Rico, so her family visits there often. It was Chandler who came up with the idea of a class trip to Puerto Rico. We thought she was kidding.

A couple of months ago, we found out she wasn’t kidding. Her mom Wanda started putting the trip together. Because nobody is rolling in money, Wanda went to a lot of trouble to make the trip as inexpensive as possible. For the last two days, she has been driving the girls from East Texas to Fort Lauderdale. Tomorrow, they fly to Puerto Rico, where they will stay in a family-owned cottage for free and Wanda will supply them with fabulous vegan food. I’m hoping that Lucy comes back more motivated than ever to work on learning some Spanish before she goes to Bolivia in September.

I came home after dropping off Lucy and tuned my autoharp, which needed it badly. I needed large amounts of caffeine to make it through church, and then I failed on the first hymn. I was playing it in one key and everyone else was singing it in a different key, and I’m sure you can imagine how awful it sounded.  For some reason the melody notes weren’t coming out clearly enough and it took multiple tries before we all managed to hit the same notes! The second hymn went much better, which made me happy because it is one of my favorites. (It’s the one I posted yesterday.)

Since it was Father’s Day, we had planned to take Walter out to dinner after church, at one of our favorite Chinese restaurants. Janet came too, so there were five of us. Did you know the average American family eats out 4-5 times a week? I can’t even imagine that. Eating out is a huge deal to us. We don’t eat out 5 times in a year unless we are on the road a lot! So it was a big treat for us to be together as a family at a restaurant.

Walter spent the afternoon having nice long talks on the phone with Lina and Mercy, who called to wish him a happy Father’s Day. I was also able to talk to my own dad on the phone as well.

Mary and Jordan returned in the evening, having had an enjoyable time at their friend’s wedding. We spent time with them then and this morning before they left to drive home at about 10:00 today.

Meanwhile, I was struggling with a dilemma I have been faced with several times before. I was due to start teaching my final summer class today. At first, I said I’d only hold the class if I had at least six students. Then I lowered it to four. The deadline was Saturday, and I only had one student signed up. I hated to lose the income, but I was sure I would simply cancel the class.

Then I got to church and found out that a family from church really wanted their daughter to take the class also. That gave me two students. I really hated to go to all that trouble for two students, so I sent out a final plea on Facebook, certain that I’d still end up canceling the class. I had a family with two kids who were interested, but they couldn’t work out the transportation. Then, as always, it boiled down to the fact that I couldn’t afford to turn down the income, even from just two students.

So this morning, after saying goodbye to Mary and Jordan, I really had to scramble to prepare for our first class which took place this afternoon! I can tell I am going to enjoy working with these two girls. But I am thinking hard about what to do in future summers. It doesn’t look as if my summer school business is going to remain viable.

Sometime during the afternoon, a very heavy package was delivered to our door. How heavy? 55 pounds. Jasper’s anvil arrived! He was one happy boy. Here he is holding the anvil and wearing his cool blue leather gloves that he got specifically for blacksmithing.

6-20-16 Jasper with anvil

Finally, tonight, as I’m sure you all know, is the night of the Strawberry Moon, a full moon which just happens to coincide with the summer solstice. I tried to get a photo with my phone (Lucy took my camera):

6-20-16 Strawberry Moon

The great thing about this for me is that today was the longest day of the year. That means from now on the days will be getting shorter again, and someday it will be fall. I’m really looking forward to that.