Earlier this year, our home insurance company sent someone to inspect our house, and the results were rather dismaying, to say the least. If we want our home insurance to be renewed, he said, we would have to remove all the ivy from the north side of the house.

We love our ivy. Over the years we’ve lived here, the ivy has grown more and more luxuriantly until it completely covered the north wall of our house. This is what the wall looked like earlier this month (remember?):

The entire wall of the house was covered. The two windows in Lucy’s room were covered with ivy. In fact sometimes it grew into the room! But the insurance inspector said the ivy could damage the wall of the house, and he’s technically right—but it wouldn’t happen for several generations!

So, my husband had to do the sad, sad deed. This is what the north side of our house looks like now:

Naked! I don’t like it.

Meanwhile, on the health front—Jasper had a rough day today. He was in a lot of pain. And he felt very sorry for himself because I have put him on a low carb diet for the time being. Almost anything that could be causing his colon troubles is either exacerbated or fed by sugar and other simple carbs. So he is taking probiotics and learning to live without sugar. Lucky for him he has a mother who is an expert in low carb cuisine!

He is supposed to be taking antibiotics also, but the clinic did not call the prescription in last night like they said they would. When I went to pick it up at Walmart this morning, they knew nothing about it. I called Walmart again in the middle of the afternoon and they still didn’t have it. So I had to call the clinic AGAIN and remind them to do their job. (They have failed to follow through on virtually everything they said they’d do—until I call and pester them.) So, maybe tomorrow he’ll finally be able to start the meds.

A Partial Answer

Today was a busy day despite the fact that I didn’t have to teach a morning class. After getting up this morning, I remembered I needed to make a snack for my students, so I made a batch of gluten-free cupcakes. Then I worked on my grading until time to wake Jasper up to go to the imaging place. All we had to do was pick up two bottles of vanilla “smoothie” for him to drink on the way back home. The first few swallows weren’t too bad, but he was struggling by the end!

I got a couple more papers graded while we waited at home, then took my grading with me when we went back to the imaging place. Jasper was ushered back for his scan and I stayed in the waiting room grading papers. We were there about an hour.

When we returned home, I had an hour or so to grade more papers and get ready for class. I realized that my cupcakes needed to be iced and lemonade needed to be made.

Only one of my thirteen students was missing today. We talked about story endings and several of the kids read their stories to the rest of us. Only one more class next Monday!

After class Jasper and I drove to the credit union to deal with some transaction questions, then on to the clinic to drop off some lab samples. Afterward, I took him to a coffee shop he had never been to and he got a cup of coffee. I was happy to wait until we got home and I could make my own tea.

We waited and waited and waited to hear back from the clinic. They finally called after 8:00 this evening. As I expected, his appendix is fine. Although the pain is in roughly the right place, I thought that if it was appendicitis it would have escalated dramatically by now. His colon is inflamed, and that is what is causing the pain—but there was no way to tell what was causing the inflammation. So he will be taking another round of antibiotics in case it is a bacterial infection. He is going to try to go to work tomorrow but he may not be there for long—strenuous activity tends to exacerbate his symptoms.

Jesus Is All the World To Me

This hymn has been on my mind the last few days, after one of my high school classmates posted it.

Jesus Is All the World To Me

Will L. Thompson

Jesus is all the world to me,
My life, my joy, my all;
He is my strength from day to day,
Without Him I would fall.
When I am sad, to Him I go,
No other one can cheer me so;
When I am sad, He makes me glad,
He’s my friend.

Jesus is all the world to me,
My friend in trials sore;
I go to Him for blessings, and
He gives them over and o’er.
He sends the sunshine and the rain,
He sends the harvest’s golden grain;
Sunshine and rain, harvest of grain,
He’s my friend.

Jesus is all the world to me,
And true to Him I’ll be;
O how could I this friend deny,
When He’s so true to me?
Following Him I know I’m right,
He watches o’er me day and night;
Following Him by day and night,
He’s my friend.

Jesus is all the world to me,
I want no better friend;
I trust Him now, I’ll trust Him when
Life’s fleeting days shall end.
Beautiful life with such a friend,
Beautiful life that has no end;
Eternal life, eternal joy,
He’s my friend.

Change of Plans

Today didn’t go quite as planned. I had a HUGE to-do list, a lot of it housework, but with plenty of other tasks thrown in for variety. Then this morning I realized it was the day for my watercolor group. I saw a notice that our hostess would not be able to attend, but I figured a few other ladies would show up, so I dropped everything and drove over to the bookstore, taking five books with me. I have a private rule now that every time I go I have to take some books.

Well, first of all, I misremembered the time and got there half an hour early. Steve (the owner) explained that the painting would be going on in the smaller upstairs room, as the large room would be the location for a question/answer panel related to the Shakespeare Festival which is currently coming to an end.

So, after ordering my tea, I set up in the smaller room and waited to see who would come.

You know who came? No one.

So I spread out my stuff all over that table and enjoyed a pleasant ninety minutes of really bad watercolor painting. Next door the door was open so I shamelessly eavesdropped on the actors talking and answering questions about their roles in this year’s plays. Twice the entertainment!

When my pictures were dry enough to transport, I packed up and drove to Walmart to pick up a few things I hadn’t been able to get at Aldi.

So now I was really far behind and I went right to work on my various tasks. I got two skirts’ waistbands redone, which was a very tedious job I’d been avoiding, but I like those skirts and really want to be able to wear them without fretting about a possible wardrobe malfunction.

Just as I was about to get going on something else, my husband, who had just returned from his yard jobs, informed me that we could no longer put off defrosting our big upright freezer, because the ice buildup had reached the point where the freezer door could no longer be fully closed.

Jasper helped me move as much food as possible into the two smaller freezers, and then I set to work with a hair dryer and lots of determination. The top shelf of the freezer appeared to be a solid block of ice. It was mostly clear by the time I took a break to make and serve supper to the guys, and then afterward Jasper helped me with the second shelf.

By about 8:30 this evening the whole thing was clear of ice. I had to throw out some things of course, but most of what was in there was salvageable. Some packages of tea were sitting in water but fortunately I got them repackaged before the water seeped through the packaging. Walter helped with the mopping-up operations, because there was a LOT of water that didn’t end up in the basins I had for that purpose. And now a load of towels will need to be washed.

So, although that wasn’t what I wanted to do today, it was a job that really needed to be done and now I don’t have it hanging over my head anymore. And I did get my minimum number of rows knit also.

Still Waiting for Answers

Hallelujah! I have finished teaching my daily classes for this summer. We had our last essay class for today and I am so relieved to be done with that. I still have two more Story Quest classes to teach and a couple more yarn classes, but the summer is winding down just in time for me to gear up for the school year.

I waited all morning to hear back about Jasper’s scan appointment, and finally had to make a bunch of calls after lunch. I think the clinic dropped the ball on making the appointment and then tried to blame it on the imaging place. The upshot was that by the time the imaging place got the order, it was too late to do it today, so Jasper will have to wait until Monday morning now.

So, since I couldn’t take him for the scan, I did my regular grocery shopping. Today was the last time for the foreseeable future where I had to do my shopping on Friday afternoon instead of the morning. To my dismay, I found myself in close proximity to a very smelly young woman in Aldi. She was so pretty and she had such a cute little daughter that it took me a few minutes to realize that the powerful body odor was coming from her! Yikes. It was bad. I have been on African buses that smelled better than that. She was wearing athletic gear so I must assume she had just come from working out—but it was hard to be within ten feet of her without gagging.

This evening was our monthly ladies’ night out, and it was poorly attended—in part because this weekend is the big hot air balloon festival that our town has every year. Why they have it in the hottest part of the summer is a mystery to me. But anyway, a lot of families were out watching the balloons, which I enjoyed visiting with my neighbor Sylvia.

We were joined briefly by another friend, Desirée, who happens to be an expert on homeopathy. She asked me about Jasper’s symptoms, and thinks it sounds like he might have a kidney stone. And to my amazement, she had the appropriate homeopathic remedy right there in her purse! So I had him take it and we will see if there is any improvement. In the absence of any actual facts, I have been imagining all kinds of things, including that he might have an ulcer. (I have had both kidney stones and an ulcer, and don’t recommend either one.)

Walter and I watched a movie to end the day, one I hadn’t seen but felt obligated to watch because one of my students wrote a critique about it and I feel I can be a better judge of the critique if I’ve seen the movie. I got some knitting done.

And Lucy comes home two weeks from now!

No Answers

Today started with me trying to make an appointment for Jasper at the clinic across the street. However, they wouldn’t take him because he is not an established patient there. Grrr. The reason he’s not an established patient is that he’s always been healthy!

So anyway, I taught my essay class and then after lunch I took Jasper up to one of those walk-in medical care places. Two and a half hours and $200 later, we still knew nothing. Blood tests came back fine, showing no inflammation or infection. So they said they’d schedule at CT scan for tomorrow and call me once they had it set up—but they never called. So I guess I’ll be calling them first thing in the morning to see what’s going on.

On the plus side, I got some knitting done while almost freezing to death. Next time I go to any medical facility I am taking a cardigan!

Cold Front/Less Hot Front/Lukewarm Front

Today was a day worthy of note. In Texas, in July, our temperature this morning was only 65 degrees! It was glorious. It felt like late September instead of July. All day the odd weather persisted, never even passing 90 degrees. What a treat!

Jasper again did not feel up to going to work and he slept all morning while I was teaching my class. As soon as class was over, I had to leave to go pick up my friend Angela so she could help me with my yarn classes this afternoon. Jade has a job now and Lina no longer lives nearby, so I am glad Angela was free and willing to help.

Then, as it turned out, we had very small classes today. Just six kids in the first class and only three in the second class. That was really nice because I think we were able to help everyone who needed help. One of my crochet whizzes crocheted a whole little doily during class—her first.

After the kids and Angela left, I had to rest a bit because I am still trying to fight off this cold. Jasper insisted he was well enough to go to youth group so he left with his friend Sam.

Meanwhile, I remembered that today was “Paint a Rock, Hide a Rock” Day. Really. It’s a thing. To participate, you were supposed to paint a rock blue with a red heart on it. So I got out my rock painting stuff and I figured if I was going to paint at all I’d do more than one rock. So I did three.

It took so long for the paint to dry that it was dark long before the rocks were done. So the hiding part will have to come later.

Also: I will be making a doctor’s appointment for Jasper tomorrow.

Hoist on My Own Petard

What was I thinking? I signed my writers’ group up for an umbrella organization that has been so helpful to me. One of the benefits is that I can put our meetings on the larger organization’s calendar, so that if someone is interested in what we’re doing, they can come. Most of the groups in the organization are located in the Dallas area, and I have driven over there several times to go to events, including one quite recently.

So, I posted that at our July meeting, I’d be doing a presentation on using humor in your writing. I’ve been interested in this topic for some time, and since I couldn’t find another speaker I thought why not learn something new and present it? I had big plans. I have a projector now, so I was going to do a big PowerPoint presentation and it was going to be awesome (and hilarious of course).

The only problem is that all this other teaching I’m doing is making it hard for me to have “spare” time to work on research and relearning how to do PowerPoint. I was having to squeeze in a few minutes of research here and there but the more research I did, the more I realized what a huge topic this is. I promise I didn’t waste time on the weekend—but I still found myself running out of it!

Yesterday I taught a morning class and an afternoon class and had a bunch of grading to do, so my presentation preparation got kind of squeezed out. This morning I taught two classes, leaving me just the afternoon to prepare for tonight’s meeting—and then after lunch I remembered that I had promised to bring lemon brownies to the meeting!

So I made the lemon bars and worked feverishly on my presentation. I am a perfectionist and I hate to produce anything that is not excellent, but as the time for the meeting loomed, I knew I was underprepared. I had stuff to talk about, but I was nowhere near as ready as I had planned to be, and there was certainly no PowerPoint.

I consoled myself with the realization that our group is tiny and I’d be lucky to have even six people to present my material to. In fact, there were exactly six of us until two more ladies walked in several minutes late. Two ladies who had driven all the way from Dallas to come hear me speak because they saw the event on the group calendar. I had to resist the urge to apologize to them on the spot. My talk was not worth going to all that effort for! But what could I do? I bumbled through it, then offered to send everyone my notes once I organize and add to them. *sigh* I hate letting myself down.

In other news, I forgot to mention that Spencer’s girlfriend Jade got a job and yesterday was her first day. She said it went well.

Also yesterday, Jasper came home from work with a stomachache and actually took a nap before supper. Then he went right back to bed. This morning he was too sick to go to work so he stayed in bed sleeping until lunchtime. I was teaching all morning so I didn’t have an opportunity to check on him.

This afternoon while I was frantically working on my presentation, Jasper wandered by and I asked him how he was doing. He said his stomach still really hurt. I asked him where and he indicated the right side of his abdomen.

Oh. That sure sounds like it could be appendicitis. But he claimed it wasn’t as bad as before and in fact he went to a Nerf battle this evening. When he returned he said he felt a lot better—but admitted he was full of adrenaline and had taken pain meds. So who knows what he will feel like in the morning—I may be taking him to the emergency room if he isn’t a lot better. Please pray for him!

Last-Minute Setback

Yesterday I went to church with the family. My church attendance has been very spotty this summer due to all my other commitments, so I went even though I was clearly coming down with a cold. I didn’t really have time for my traditional Sunday afternoon nap, but I physically needed it!

It was a weird Sunday evening. Normally we try to have a family dinner, but Jasper went to a worship time/prayer meeting and didn’t come back till late. Spencer and Jade came for a brief visit before Spencer went to play soccer. He came back much later (after Walter and I already ate) and had supper but Jade had already gone home.

I socialized as much as I could, but the reality was that I had a LOT of class prep to do and I was doing it very slowly because of my cold-muddled brain.

So this morning I was up early and medicated, trying to get back on track. Today my essay kids started their research essay, and to make it easier to teach the method, I give them a folder full of sources to use. I printed out the other materials I’d need, and then went to get the folders—only to find that they weren’t where I have always kept them. They also weren’t in any of the other places I looked. Yikes!

I had no choice but to reprint all that material from scratch. Thank goodness I had saved all the files! But then when I got it all printed, I discovered that I had no folders to put it all in. None. How could I run out of folders? So with less than an hour to go before class time, I zoomed down to Dollar General and stocked up on folders. They were on sale! And yes, I got everything assembled in time for class—but didn’t finish all the grading I had planned to do.

After essay class I had a brief break to prepare for Story Quest. Since that is a longer class we have a recess and I provide snacks and drinks. That particular class is always exhausting for me because everyone one wants to talk all the time and it takes so much effort to get their attention and get them to listen!

As soon as class was over I had to run a couple of errands and then come back and work on critiquing and preparation for tomorrow’s class. I also have a presentation to prepare for and am starting to wonder how I am going to pull it off. . . .

Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched

I have not heard this hymn sung in decades, but I still sometimes hum it to myself because I love the Welsh tune (Bryn Calfaria).

Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched

Joseph Hart

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity joined with power;
He is able, He is able, He is able,
He is willing, doubt no more;
He is willing, doubt no more.

Come, ye needy, come, and welcome;
God’s free bounty glorify:
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings us nigh;
Without money, without money, without money,
Come to Jesus Christ and buy;
Come to Jesus Christ and buy.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you, This He gives you, This He gives you,
’Tis the Spirit’s rising beam,
’Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and mangled by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all;
Not the righteous, not the righteous, not the righteous,
Sinners Jesus came to call;
Sinners Jesus came to call.

View Him groveling in the garden;
Lo! Your maker prostrate lies!
On the bloody tree behold Him,
Hear Him cry before He dies;
It is finished! It is finished! It is finished!
Sinners, will not this suffice,
Sinners, will not this suffice?

Lo! th’incarnate God, ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood;
Venture on Him, venture wholly;
Let no other trust intrude;
None but Jesus, none but Jesus, none but Jesus,
Can do helpless sinners good;
Can do helpless sinners good.

Saints and angels joined in concert,
Sing the praises of the Lamb;
While the blissful seats of Heaven
Sweetly echo with His name.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!
Sinners here may sing the same,
Sinners here may sing the same.