A Birthday Breakfast and a Field Trip

Today did not get off to a leisurely start, as I had promised Spencer his belated birthday breakfast. (There was just too much stuff going on when Flynn was here and I didn’t do it then.) So I was very busy for a while, making crêpes and cooking eggs and so forth. It was worth it though—the breakfast was a hit, and I had enough ham-and-swiss-cheese crêpes left over for Walter and Jasper to have some for lunch.

Jasper and I also had school to do, and we had to finish the day’s work this morning, as we had a field trip planned for the afternoon. Jasper has wanted all summer to set up a backyard blacksmith’s forge, and in fact we got him some smithing supplies for his birthday in April. But it’s been a busy summer, and we didn’t want him jumping into it without talking to an expert first, so this afternoon I took him to visit “Shadowhawk,” the blacksmith we’ve been watching at various Renaissance Faires and other events for many years now.

Shadowhawk Blades

It was over an hour’s drive up to the forge, but a stunningly beautiful one through green pastures and fields. When we got there, we talked and watched Shadowhawk work for a couple of hours. As I suspected, there is no “quick-and-easy” way to master smithing. Acquiring a forge doesn’t teach you anything, and YouTube is virtually useless unless you already have experience. The only way to learn practical skills is by doing them, preferably guided by someone who knows what he’s doing. So, we are going to see if we can swing it for Jasper to take Shadowhawk’s basic blacksmithing class. That should help him decide if he really loves doing it enough to invest in a forge.

Right as we were getting ready to leave, Lady Shadowhawk arrived so I at least got to say hello to her. It was a very enjoyable afternoon.

False Alarm

After all the fear and anticipation, it looks like the hurricane will not be coming our way after all. This is good for us, but I almost wish it would head this way and give those near Houston a break. When I went to Walmart this evening, I saw a couple of guys with a pickup truck pulling a boat. They were filling both the boat and the pickup bed with emergency supplies to take south.

Today was a fairly normal school day. Little by little, we are adding to our schedule until we are fully up to speed.

This afternoon I watched a movie with Lina and got a lot of beads sewn onto a dress I hope to wear this weekend. I have time to do that now because I finished the knitting project I had been working on for the last few weeks. Now I have to think about what my next “big” knitting project will be. Last year I made hats for so many people. Maybe I should finally make a hat for myself!

On the Mend

The weekend, during which I hoped to get so much done, turned out to be mostly a time of trying to feel better. The chai party was canceled on Saturday due to more exciting stuff happening on campus. By then I was feeling quite poorly, so I didn’t mind.

I stayed home from church on Sunday, thinking I’d take a nap and then get up and do some class work. Instead I slept all morning and half the afternoon. I guess I really did need it.

By the time I had to start making lasagna, I was feeling a little better. We had three students join us for supper and the food was appreciated.

Today Jasper and I started adding more school back into the schedule. He got to write with a fountain pen for the first time. We also went to the gym and I ran errands too. So obviously, I have started feeling quite a bit better, though still not 100%.

This evening Jasper and I went to a 4-H planning meeting. Our local 4-H is in desperate need of more members. I hope we are able to interest more kids in joining 4-H.

Meanwhile, I’m sure some of you are wondering if we have been affected by the hurricane. It is a very slow-moving storm and is not expected to reach us until Wednesday. So we will see what happens. Lucy and I saw a fleet of emergency response vehicles parked at a local truck stop today—we assume on their way to help in the Houston area. Right now the prediction is that we will get some wind and a lot of rain. This has already been an unusually rainy August for us.

A Shelter in the Time of Storm

Praying for those in Harvey’s path. . .

A Shelter in the Time of Storm

Vernon J. Charlesworth

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A Shelter in the time of storm.


Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A weary land, a weary land;
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

A shade by day, defense by night,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
No fears alarm, no foes afright,
A Shelter in the time of storm.


The raging storms may round us beat,
A Shelter in the time of storm
We’ll never leave our safe retreat,
A Shelter in the time of storm.


O Rock divine, O Refuge dear,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Be Thou our Helper ever near,
A Shelter in the time of storm.




I am still struggling with my cold and sore throat, so it was another low-key day. I still had to go to Aldi because we are having a chai party tomorrow and I had to buy all the supplies. In the afternoon I had to go to Wal-Mart to get all the things Aldi doesn’t carry.

Meanwhile, Jasper mowed the front yard like he does every Friday, and then mowed the back yard because there won’t be time tomorrow. We have known for a couple of weeks now that we have a yellow jacket nest in the back yard. Walter mowed around it last week and got away without being stung. Jasper was not so fortunate today. He thought the nest had been dealt with but instead the wasps dealt with him. He was stung nine times! Although the stings are painful and swollen, he did not have an allergic reaction and for that I am very thankful.

Meanwhile, Walter started an extra cleaning project this weekend, one he does twice a year for a second daycare center. This weekend and next weekend he will be working very long hours. And I have at least a week’s worth of work to do before Monday . . .

In Which a Postal Clerk Makes My Day

Today was a slow day, because I am catching a cold and I have a very sore throat. So, I wasn’t exactly up to being super productive. The good news is that I don’t expect to get as sick as I have in the past, because I have been off of sugar and other starches for six months now, which means my immune system should be in better shape. I hope.

One thing I did have to do was stop by the post office to mail something.  The post office is right down the road from us, and I have been going to that same post office for over 30 years. I have long-term relationships with the clerks. I mourned when my buddy Cesar retired—in his eighties. But many of the other employees have also been there for decades. They know me by name and have been serving me with a smile since my kids were little. They know Lina lives in Zambia and they ask about her.

So today I walked in, and Lisa was at the counter, and after greeting me, she asked, “What have you been doing? You look fabulous! You have lost so much weight!” Music to my ears! I told her that most people had not noticed my weight loss, and she said, “Well, they must be blind, then. I noticed it right away!” Made. My. Day. I work so hard and so rarely get any positive feedback, that when I do it means all the more to me.

This afternoon, Lucy and I watched a movie with Lina (who was watching in Zambia) and I got some knitting done. Not much more you can do when you really feel lousy. And I have reached the point in my project where one row takes close to an hour. At least I’m in the home stretch!

Saying Goodbye

Today was Flynn’s last day with us. He took Jasper out for a fancy breakfast. This afternoon, after my husband had installed my whiteboard, Flynn bought a movie and we all watched it together in the living room.

Then, we ran out of time. Flynn ate an early supper before leaving to catch his plane from Dallas to Denver. He was only here for three days, but we tried to make the most of it!

Now it’s full speed ahead on school preparations. I have found some amusing old school papers as I’ve been working in the school room.

Hungarian Goodness

Today I had a little “mother-son” date with Flynn. We just hung out at Starbucks for a while and then went on to a store where I hoped to find a specific size of ceramic pot for my new little succulents. I didn’t succeed, but neither did I come home empty-handed.

The kids went out for coffee this afternoon, and then this evening Flynn had offered to take us out to dinner, so I suggested we try Brigitta’s,  the new Hungarian restaurant in Kilgore, which I had noticed on my way home from Tyler last month. A couple of people I know had tried it and really liked it.

It is a very unassuming place, with window boxes full of geraniums outside and very plain décor inside. There was only one other customer when we arrived.

We were greeted with enthusiasm by the owners, who described the various items on the menu for us (the day’s menu is written on a chalkboard). After listening to the whole menu, I realized that everything is served on mashed potatoes. When I explained I can’t eat potatoes, they immediately offered to split my potato portion among Walter and our sons, and also to give them my bread.  They were very anxious to make sure I was satisfied with my “incomplete” meal, and garnished it with garlic and sour cream after making sure I would approve.

While we waited for them to bring our food, the wife brought us a tray of Hungarian sausage and cheese to try. Yum. The five of us had ordered a total of four different entrées, and they were all so tasty that none of us wanted to share with each other. There was nothing fancy about the place at all—the flatware and dinnerware were disposable, and the drinks came in bottles and cans. But who cares, if the food is good? There’s nothing I love more than good home-cooked ethnic food. I hope this restaurant develops a devoted customer base and thrives! The owners came to check on us multiple times to make sure we were enjoying our food and didn’t need anything. We all walked out smiling.

After arriving back home, we had a family movie night with a break for more of Spencer’s birthday cake. Flynn leaves tomorrow afternoon and we are all going to be sad to see him go.

Meanwhile, Walter took the afternoon off again and installed a light for Jasper’s new desk, and a shelf/hook combo for Lucy to hang some of her things on. He had to go borrow a saw for the whiteboard, but I think that will go up tomorrow. It’s so good to have some of these little jobs done!

A Visitor and a Birthday

It’s been a great couple of days around here. Yesterday we had a guest preacher, and one of the hymns I had chosen for us to sing was the very one he had intended to request! So that worked out very well.

By the time we returned home from church, Flynn was already here waiting for us. It sure is good to have him here.

Since yesterday was Spencer’s birthday, I set up a group video chat so his three distant sisters and one brother-in-law could all talk to him at once. We had never tried that before, but we’ll have to do it again. We had Mercy, Mary, and Lina onscreen all at the same time!

Spencer went out to eat with his friends for supper, and took Flynn along, and most of our “adopted” college students begged off, so we had a very small kickoff of the school year. Mercy’s boyfriend Daniel was the only guest who came. I made way too much food!

Today I awoke to the sublime smell of a brisket roasting. Spencer had requested brisket for his family dinner today, and I like to slow-roast it overnight. So my big job of the morning was to trim the fat off and then cut up all that tender meat.

After lunch, we all went outside to view the eclipse. We had a sheet of very dark glass to look through, but the most fun was holding colanders up to the sun and seeing the dozens of tiny crescent shapes made on the ground by the eclipsed sun shining through the holes.

To my delight, Flynn offered to take charge of making the birthday cake. He has become quite a gourmet cake-baker in the last couple of years, and casually tosses around words like “ganache” in everyday conversation. He made Spencer a banana cake, iced with chocolate icing and then drenched in a layer of peanut butter ganache.

Meanwhile, Walter took the afternoon off and did several “honey do” project around the house, including installing a shelf I’ve had for months, and putting up the hooks for storing our new skinny table which we’ll only need on afternoons when I have class. The new whiteboard I think may go up tomorrow.

While Spencer and Lucy were at rugby practice, the rest of us started watching Ladyhawke, the movie of choice for eclipse enthusiasts. Then they returned for a late dinner of brisket and various accoutrements. Eventually, cake was served and it was a big hit with those who had it. I, of course, have no idea what it tasted like but it looked delicious!

It was a pretty low-key birthday celebration, but it was a good meal and I think everyone enjoyed it.

And Can It Be?

I enjoyed playing and singing this in church this morning. It was one of my favorites as a child.

And Can It Be?

Charles Wesley

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.