An Excuse to Read

My cold, which seemed to loosen its grip yesterday, came back during the night so today has been a challenge. We did get through the minimum of school and Jasper had yet another field trip, this time to a local chemical plant.

Since I wasn’t up to much else, I actually read a book. That always feels so decadent.

Mercy has picked up a second job waitressing on weekends, and Spencer will be playing rugby out of town this weekend, so that should make Saturday’s chai party interesting. I may have to ask for help with the preparations.

Lake School at Last!

The way we talk about going to the lake, you’d think we went out there every weekend, when the sad reality is that even in a really good year, we’re lucky to make it to the lake five or six times. We used to do a thing called “lake school,” where I’d transport the kids to the lake and we’d do school at the lake, with breaks for swimming and nature walks, of course. Sometimes I took whole classes of kids out there for an afternoon.

We haven’t had lake school for a couple of years, and we haven’t been to the lake at all since May, when it was really high. I have zero interest in going there during our Texas summer, because I firmly believe I would melt—but all summer I’ve been telling Jasper that once the weather cooled off a little bit, we would do school at the lake.

So, today was the day. The high was only in the mid 80s! It was a beautiful, sunny, breezy day. I had a plan. It was a great plan. The kids love it when we take a grill with us to the lake and grill some of our food, so I had planned to grill stuff for both breakfast and lunch.

The first hitch in our plan came when Jasper couldn’t find our little “pod” grill that we take on such excursions. Walter had recently reorganized the carport, and the grill was no longer where we thought it would be. I texted my husband but didn’t receive an answer, so the only thing to do was to fall back on Plan B. Normally there would not be a Plan B that was sufficient to deal with this problem, but a couple years ago I actually bought a replacement pod grill to use when our current one wears out, because I really do like it that much. It was still in the box, so we threw it in the car along with some screwdrivers and all the other stuff and two travel mugs full of hot tea and we set off on our adventure.

We left a little later than planned and had to stop for ice on the way, so we didn’t get to the lake until 9:30. This meant breakfast would be quite late, since we hadn’t even assembled the grill yet. I had warned Jasper that it was a fairly involved process, because I remembered doing it last time. The instructions said it would take 20 minutes. With two of us working together, it took at least 45 minutes, but we were proud of ourselves when we were done.

By then we were both starving, but at least we had a grill now and could get a fire going. We had brought both “regular” and “instant start” charcoal. For times like this, I find the instant start charcoal to be a real time saver. . . except when it isn’t. Apparently this particular bag of charcoal didn’t get the memo about starting instantly. Match after match was sacrificed to the cause, to no avail. I ripped a page from the grill instruction booklet and we tried using that as kindling. That paper burned just fine but the coals didn’t catch. So then we tried dry grass with the same result. Then using more instruction book paper rolled up like cigars. Again, the paper burned merrily but the coals just lay there and laughed.

Finally, I sent Jasper in search of some small dry sticks. He found a very dry stick which we snapped into short sections and then lit with matches. (We used over half a box of matches.) The sticks did the trick at last. They burned for long enough to break down the coals’ resistance and we finally had an actual fire.

By now it was 11:00 and our “breakfast” had turned into “brunch!” In recent years, I have taken to using heavy-duty foil for most cooking chores on a grill rather than bringing a heavy frying pan that I would have to wash afterwards. So I made a foil “griddle” and fried some eggs and sausage patties on the grill. If I moved the foil a little to the side there was just enough room to toast a bagel for Jasper also.

It’s amazing how delicious food tastes when you have worked so hard to make it! After our brunch, we worked on math and Jasper got in a couple of quick walks. We also started listening to a new audiobook for literature. We also made a point of adding a few coals to the fire every half hour or so because we didn’t want it to go out!

For our late lunch, we had planned on bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches. This time we already had a nice hot bed of coals, so I made another foil pan for the bacon. It seemed like way too much bacon for two people, but Jasper felt it was barely enough. I blush to admit there was none left over . . .

So anyway, once the bacon was done I put it up on the warming rack and toasted our bread. (I can eat bread in the middle of the day as long as it’s gluten free.) Those BLTs tasted amazing! And after eating his sandwich, Jasper got to make some Jiffy Pop popcorn on the grill too. Marshmallows were also roasted over the glowing coals.

Jasper went on a walk to find shells and I watched from my refuge in the shade. He did go in swimming for a while and talked me into coming out to wade for a few minutes when the sun was a little lower.

Then we had to figure out how to douse the coals. Normally, we pour them out onto the ground and then pour a full bucket of water over them. Today, however, the grass had been recently mowed and there was lots of dry grass lying around. It would have been very easy to start a fire that we would not have been able to douse in time.

So instead, we poured the bucket of water directly into the grill and were treated to an impressive eruption of steam and ash. The grill had to be hosed clean when we got home! Oh, and after we got to the lake I saw I had a text from my husband telling me where the old grill was. When we got home, we checked—and it was right where he said it was!

Parting Shot:


Jasper’s souvenirs of the day.

Terrific Tuesday

So, I woke up with a cold this morning and have been fighting it all day. That made getting through school a little harder for sure.

This afternoon Jasper had his regular “Terrific Tuesday” gig. This is an afterschool program at a nearby church where he helps the kids with simple woodworking projects, under the oversight of a former neighbor of ours. He enjoys it every week during the school year.

I had an enjoyable talk with Mary on the phone and then headed out to my critique group and writers’ meeting. As always, my critique partners pointed out some stuff that I had missed. I am so thankful for them.

Tomorrow, Jasper and I are hoping to do something different.

A Field Trip for Jasper

Jasper was invited to go on a field trip this morning to a nearby big cat rescue operation. It was especially fun for him since two of his best buddies from the neighborhood were going too. That gave me a morning on my own to get some housework done in addition to preparing for my class this afternoon.

Jasper came back very enthusiastic and told me about all the cats he’d seen–lions, tigers, bobcats and mountain lions. He had a great time and learned a lot!

I have felt a little under the weather all day and am really hoping I’m not coming down with something. If I don’t feel A-okay in the morning, it will be back to drinking garlic tea!

Mercy was gone for most of the weekend playing in a rugby tournament in Houston. Her team won all three of their games by a huge margin and Mercy made her first try (goal)! She was sore by the end of it but also well satisfied.

I haven’t heard much from Lucy in the last few days, but she has a new blog entry up if you’d like to follow her Bolivia adventures:

The Church’s One Foundation

The Church’s One Foundation

Samuel J. Stone

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

She is from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end:
Though there be those who hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against both foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
With all her sons and daughters
Who, by the Master’s hand
Led through the deathly waters,
Repose in Eden land.

O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee:
There, past the border mountains,
Where in sweet vales the Bride
With Thee by living fountains
Forever shall abide!


A Scorcher

Today I played hooky and went to the Texarkana Renaissance Faire. This is its fifth year of existence and I have gone every year except last year. Two years ago, we had a booth there, and thought about doing it again this year, except that we traveled so much this summer and then Lucy left for Bolivia and I can’t do it without her.

Still, I wanted to go and see some of my friends. Unfortunately, Texas hasn’t got the memo that it’s supposed to be fall. I had a two-hour drive to get to the faire and by the time I did, it was already pretty hot. I did a little walk around and then collapsed in the shade at the blacksmith’s booth, where I could sit in relative comfort and watch Shadowhawk and his crew at work. After so many years, I still love to hang out and watch blacksmiths at work.

Later, I went to listen to a couple of shows and greatly enjoyed them. I also checked in with my mermaid friend, whom I hadn’t realized would be there. It was good to see her. Lunchtime came and went, but I couldn’t eat anything because I was so stupid I forgot to take my insulin before I left. Nothing at the faire is diabetic friendly and gluten free! I was trying to ration my water, but by the time I landed back at the forge it was half gone and I was very thirsty. Sarah offered to top off my water bottle with ice cold water and I was very grateful! That bottle was empty by the time I got back to the car!

I had intended to stay for a 4:00 show and then leave afterwards, but shortly after 3:00 my patience ran out. The temperature had been in the mid-90s all day and I was so tired of being hot. I trudged back to the car, got the air conditioner started, and put a wet towel on my head, because I’m just that classy. Of course the towel was very hot because it had been in the car, but once the air started cooling down the car, the water in the towel started evaporating and really helped to cool my head down. I stopped and got some roasted chicken because I was starving but I couldn’t eat any carbs. (Okay. I could have got a turkey leg at the faire. I just wasn’t willing to pay $10 for one.)

So, instead of getting home after dark, I was home by late afternoon. Then I kind of forgot about music for tomorrow, so I’ve been working on that. Mercy is out of town for a rugby game, and Spencer’s friend Britton is coming in to spend the night again tonight. Jasper had a great time at his swordsmanship club.

Parting Shot:


My favorite costumes at the faire. They made all that stuff themselves, including that fine chainmail. I was so impressed.

Becoming a Rugby Mom

First of all, I want to let you know that I found my missing circular knitting needle, because I know you all were really worried. I’ve already gotten a good start on a new project.

Today of course was Friday, my least favorite day of the week. A very reluctant Jasper came to Aldi with me and then had to do school this afternoon.

I did get to spend some time working on my current manuscript. I went through and plotted all the major events so far onto a calendar, because this is a story in which timing is crucial. I also decided to change a character’s name due to the fact that I think it is too similar to a name I used in another story. That will take some getting used to.

I had hoped to attend a social event tonight, but I scrapped those plans when I found out that both Mercy and Spencer would be playing rugby tonight, a home game that was a “friendly” rather than official, so they were both guaranteed play time. It was my first rugby game in over 30 years! The last time I watched rugby, I was watching my handsome young husband play. I never thought the day would come when I’d be watching my daughter play!

The girls’ team played first. It was a very short game because they only had seven girls per side. Our team did very well. Mercy looked great out there. I had to settle a dispute between two other spectators as to whether or not that really was Mercy. My eyesight is not that great, but I’m pretty good at recognizing my own offspring! I took a bunch of photos, but the lighting was horrible so they didn’t turn out very well.

When the guys took the field, I knew I’d have no problem finding Spencer. I think he’s the biggest guy on the team and he’s certainly the only one with bright pink hair. (It was red, but it faded.) The opposing team was made up of football players who were very, very fast and brutal. Yikes!

The whole time I was there, there was a toddler sitting a couple rows behind me who was really into watching the game. He alternated between yelling, “Ball! Ball ball ball ball ball BALL!” and yelling “Go! Go go go go go GO!” I have no idea whose side he was on, but he sure was enjoying himself!


New Phone, Lunch Outing

I, uh, forgot to post last night. I don’t have an excuse. I just forgot.

Yesterday I went to the Verizon place and got my phone upgraded. They mentioned to me right before I left that we actually qualify for a discount because my husband works at the university. We have been with Verizon for YEARS and this is the first time they’ve bothered to let us know that we qualify for a discount. Oh well . . .

So now I’m trying to get used to my new phone. After two years, I was finally comfortable with my old phone, but it was getting more and more quirky. Now it’s been demoted to alarm clock status. (It had no trade-in value.)

Today I realized halfway through the morning that there was a homeschool teen lunch today. It was also park day, but after our last attempt I didn’t dare suggest that to Jasper. However, he was very willing to go eat lunch at a restaurant! This time one of his good friends was there and he really enjoyed himself. I sat with the moms and listened to them talk. There never seemed to be any opportunity for me to contribute, but that is okay. That is introvert life.

Mercy was busy last night and this afternoon making mini cheesecakes and blueberry pies to sell at the rugby team bake sale this evening. She sold out! She is allowed to continue playing rugby since she is now working at the university.

I wanted to start a new knitting project tonight, because I only have two going at the moment, but I can’t find the needle I need. This is not okay. I need to find it ASAP because I don’t want to lose my knitting momentum!


Surprise House Guest

You know what made my day today? You’re gonna laugh when you find out. I had to mail some things at the post office, and I was kind of grumpy about it, because my two favorite elderly clerks had presumably retired and even my backup favorite clerks hadn’t been there in months and I love the familiarity of doing business with someone I sort of know.

So I walked into the post office and there was only one clerk working but when I saw who it was I was so tickled. It was one of the guys I thought had retired! He seemed as glad to see me as I was to see him, and he asked about my family. It turned out he has just been working at another branch for the last four years. Seeing him made up at least a little bit for the fact that my favorite bank teller has disappeared.

Late last night Spencer got a call from his lifelong buddy Britton. Britton is now a long-haul trucker and he was going to be in our vicinity right about the time he would have to take a mandatory break. So, sometime after midnight he parked his rig at a nearby hotel and Spencer picked him up and brought him back to spend the night here.

At least this time I knew he was coming before I went to bed. There have been times when I’ve gotten up in the morning to discover an unidentified body lying on my couch. Usually, it was Britton!

This morning it was good to see him and hear about his wedding plans. His fiancée drove up from a nearby town and we all got to meet her as well. They were able to stay until lunchtime, after which Britton had to get back on the road and Kaylee had to head back home. That was a pleasant surprise!

This evening we went to Sam’s and did something we should have done years ago—mattress shopping. We were recently given some “unexpected” money and we knew that we really needed to spend it on a new mattress for us and one for Lucy also. Our mattress was well-used when we got it twenty years ago, and our duct tape repairs were no longer doing the job! Lucy’s was in even worse shape than ours. We still have three other mattresses that need replacing . . . but meanwhile I’m looking forward to a better quality of sleep tonight.

Back to School

Jasper and I had a pretty productive school day, despite some pitiful whining on his part! I also taught my class this afternoon, at the very same time that Lucy was teaching her first ESL (English as a Second Language) class in Bolivia. She was very nervous about it but I am sure she did well.

Mercy kind of had a nostalgia trip of a day. After being so eager to graduate from university, she greatly enjoyed attending chapel this morning and then sitting in on Greek class and hanging out at the library, where she’ll soon be going back to work for the time being.

I had to make a run to Walmart to get dish soap, because for once there was actually a good excuse for why the dishes hadn’t been washed!

I also got some knitting done and a few other things. I should have practiced the autoharp. I thought my lesson was next week so I double checked my calendar and it’s tomorrow. I’m begging for an extension.

P.S. I hope you remembered to talk like a pirate today. Today was International Talk Like a Pirate Day.