On the Brink

This morning I was busy preparing for Geography class. We were in Southeast Europe today so there was a lot to cover and some delicious Greek food to eat.

Mary arrived this afternoon. And this evening, as we were eating supper, the power went out. And came back on. And went out again. We had this same thing happen on Tuesday, but this time it stayed out for a couple of hours. We had lots of candles lit! I got some knitting done.

I was very glad the power came back on, because I had been in the middle of drying our bedding. Walter’s instructions say he has to sleep on just-washed bedding tonight after showering with special soap—and showering again in the morning!

Not looking forward to getting up at 5:00 a.m. Please pray for us tomorrow (Friday) as my husband goes in for surgery.

Swifty

Today was a little less frenetic than the previous few days. I prepared for and taught the blond brothers. Before they arrived, I was working on winding some yarn for my next knitting project, and while I had the swift and winder out I went ahead and started winding some souvenir yarn—the skein I’d bought in Scotland and the yarn I bought in Washington last week.

I started trying to wind my blue-faced Leicester yarn from the Isle of Skye and ran into a problem. The strands of yarn were sticking together as if they were trying to felt to each other. I had to abandon my yarn winder and wind the yarn by hand a few inches at a time.

I continued to work on it during times when the boys were busy writing, and they were fascinated by the swift. When I finally got the whole skein wound into a ball, I rewound it with the ball winder and the boys were so impressed! They had never seen either device before.

Fortunately the Washington yarn was very quick and easy to wind.

I made it to the gym tonight and was so cold that I walked too fast at the beginning and then had to really slow down after I started tiring. Tomorrow we’ve got Geography and then Mary is coming!

Too Busy

This week is turning out to be as big a challenge as I feared it would be, and we’re not even halfway through it yet!

Sunday we went to church and then I was busy preparing for Monday’s class and also making a birthday dinner and cake for Jade. Sunday was her 22nd birthday. She and Spencer came over for a spaghetti dinner and then stayed to visit for a while afterward. I wasn’t able to enjoy their company for very long because of all the work I had to do getting ready to teach. And the four chickens I had to cook in my Instant Pot one after the other.

Monday (yesterday) I had my high school class and we had a lively discussion about some aspects of historical British society in Lorna Doone, which is the book we’re currently reading.

Shortly after the class ended, I was on the way to the doctor’s office with Jasper. He has resisted going for months but his toe just is not getting better. Even while waiting to see the doctor, he kept insisting that his toe “wasn’t that bad.” Yes, it was. The doctor was horrified when she saw it. So now he is taking antibiotics and has an appointment next month with a different doctor. Hopefully by then the infection will be gone and the swelling will be reduced so the toenail can be removed. After what we’ve gone through with our older kids, we no longer have any sentimental attachment to problematical toenails.

After returning from the doctor’s office, I had a tutoring student and after that I took Jasper to Walmart to pick up his prescription so he could get started on it. Then I had to cram all evening for today’s class, finish my critiquing, and work on my outline for my writers’ group meeting.

This morning I made a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough before even having my first cup of tea. I worked hard to get ready for my elementary class and I think it went pretty well. The weather was cold and wet so they had their recess in the carport. I am a hard-hearted teacher and make the kids go outside in almost any weather because I don’t think most kids get enough time outdoors.

Shortly after that class ended, I baked all the cookies and then I had a new tutoring student show up—a college student who happens to be the daughter of a dear friend and also a former student of mine. Her college English teacher has not been explaining things very well so she came to me for help and I think we were able to make some headway.

When she left I had time for a much-needed nap. I have averaged less than five hours of sleep a night since returning home from my trip and that is just not enough.

A mug of tea revived me and then I gathered all my materials together and set off for my writers’ meeting, leaving Lucy to finish making the food for the university’s international food fest known as “Our World Café.” Our family has been contributing Zambian food to this annual event for many years, and this is why I cooked all those chickens on Sunday night.

Our critique group and writers’ meeting went pretty well. We talked about goal setting, which I think is quite appropriate for a January meeting. The cookies seemed to be welcome.

It was such a relief to get home and have a little down time. I finished a knitting project and started winding the yarn for the next one. Lucy returned with lots of leftovers which will have to be put away and saved for future dinners. It is unusual for us to have that much food left over from this event.

We received a welcome update on our nephew Isaac who lives in Spain. He was admitted to the hospital on the weekend with a blood clot in his carotid artery—very scary. Today he had surgery and a stent was installed. Hopefully he will have many years left to enjoy with his sweet wife and their two young children.

I know reading the events of the week so far (if you did read!) you are probably wondering why I am so overwhelmed by everything I have to do. It doesn’t seem like that much. But preparing for all my various classes and tutoring sessions is very time consuming, and my other commitments often are too. Right now it is a huge struggle to keep up. Hoping things get better after Walter’s surgery.

Sweet Hour of Prayer

There are so many sorrows in my world right now, and today we were reminded of the importance of prayer.

Sweet Hour of Prayer

William Walford

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
Where God my Savior shows His face,
And gladly take my station there,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight:
This robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise
To seize the everlasting prize;
And shout, while passing through the air,
Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!

Home Again

Yesterday was a long, long day. I woke up at Julie’s house, showered, and finished packing all my stuff. I had tea. I also had severe dizziness which the tea did not cure. At about 10:00 Julie and I set off for the Spokane airport. She helped me get my bags checked (I also checked my carryon in an effort to make my day easier) and then we said goodbye.

After going through security, I still had plenty of time, so I decided to take Julie’s advice and get some protein, even though I don’t normally eat that early in the day. My bunless burger cost $9! And sadly, my dizziness persisted. My next natural step was another big cup of tea, which I drank while sitting at my gate waiting for my flight.

It was there at the airport, having said all my goodbyes, that my worries returned to me like a flock of ravens returning to the blackened branches of a long-dead tree. I was able to suppress all that in order to enjoy the reunion, but now I found myself feeling so daunted by the next few months. Meanwhile, new worries have joined the old ones. A classmate is facing a heartbreaking health challenge. Others like me are concerned about ailing parents and some face difficult situations with their kids or grandkids. At times like this, I feel I have to try even harder to see and appreciate each tiny little ray of sunshine that pierces the gloom.

Once sitting on the plane, I didn’t care if I was dizzy because if I passed out I’d still be sitting in my seat. However, the flight passed without incident and soon I found myself once again in the Denver airport, which is far from being my favorite place. Despite continued dizziness, I scored more tea and then made the long trek down to my new gate, where I settled in to drink tea and read.

By the time the tea was gone, I felt quite a bit better. I followed another friend’s advice and filled my water bottle from the water fountain and drank some water. I think I was certainly somewhat dehydrated.

The flight to Dallas was shorter than it had been going the other way, and I arrived at the airport quite a bit sooner than my husband, who was driving in through Dallas traffic. We reached home right at midnight and I got the dishwasher loaded and running before I went to bed. Both kids were gone—Lucy babysitting and Jasper at an all-night prayer event.

Today my first job was grocery shopping since we have a birthday dinner this weekend. Once home, I did what you’d expect—put away groceries, unpacked my suitcases, and started putting everything back where it belongs. Then I began on my school chores. Why is it that being gone for a week makes me feel like I’m a month behind? I’ll be hard-pressed to do everything that must be done before Walter’s surgery on Friday.

Also, I still have not seen either one of the kids since my return!

The Carryon Conundrum

All my life, I’ve aspired to be one of those savvy travelers who takes only a carryon for overseas adventures—no matter how long. I put forth tremendous effort into figuring out how to do it and what to pack for my UK trip last fall.

This more recent trip I had to also take a larger suitcase because of the bulky winter clothes I needed. And, as I mentioned, my new four-wheeled carryon arrived at the last possible moment. I was so glad to have it, especially in the Denver airport where all three pieces of luggage had to go with me everywhere!

Now here’s where I’ve been rethinking things a bit. Most glowing endorsements of carryon-only travel that I’ve seen make a big point of how you never have to go to baggage claim. You just grab your carryon and stride boldly into the world to have adventures. In fact, this seems to be the primary selling point of this approach to traveling.

Now imagine you’re a lady in the early stages of senectitude, and you also have restrictions against lifting heavy weights. I find it challenging and unenjoyable to drag my tightly-packed carryon down the tiny aisle of the plane, and then have to lift it over my head to get it into the overhead bin. Furthermore, because you’re only allowed one personal item, I have to stuff my much-beloved Sash handbag into my backpack at least until I get settled in my seat.

Thanks to an attack of extreme dizziness yesterday, and to the fact that Southwestern allows you to check two bags for free, I chose to check both my regular suitcase and my carryon for my flights home. My experience was so much easier and less stressful. I still had my backpack for anything I might need during the flight, and my Sash bag too, because my backpack was my official carryon and my Sash bag was my personal item.

As it turns out, I don’t mind at all going to baggage claim and waiting a few minutes for my bags to show up, especially if it makes other aspects of the trip so much easier. Another huge benefit of this approach is that you are not so restricted in liquids. I need a lot of potions just to make myself presentable these days! And if, like me, you think traveling with a pocketknife is necessary, you can safely do so as long as you pack the knife in your carryon and then check it. So in the future, although I still hope and plan to travel carryon only, I will check my carryon and collect it again at my destination.

Some exceptions to this new resolution:

If there is a fee for all checked bags but not for a carryon I will of course carry it on.

If I expect a lengthy layover during which I might need access to items in my carryon, I will carry it on.

But aside from those two exceptions, I think I’ll be checking my carryon bag most of the time. Anyone else have any thoughts or opinions on this?

The End

It’s hard to say goodbye when you’re still having a great time—but also necessary. This morning I was up early to repack all my stuff and still be able to hang out in the main living area so I could visit with the classmates who hadn’t left yet.

As the morning progressed, people sat down and ate breakfast, helped clean the kitchen, and then began leaving. There were many, many hugs. Ken had help loading the pickup truck, which was a pretty big job.

We waved goodbye to the last of our classmates and then Ken and Julie and I set off for Spokane in the rain. For almost the entire four-hour drive, we went through very thick fog, which must have been quite stressful for our driver, Ken. For me it was just a bit disappointing because the fog obscured so much beautiful scenery I would have liked to see. Washington is a stunningly beautiful state.

Although I dozed off often in the truck, I’m afraid I still took a nap when we reached Julie’s house. It’s been a quiet evening as we all recover from the activity of the last few days. Tomorrow I hope and expect to have no delays or cancellations on my trip back to Texas.

Note: you have not heard the last about this reunion. The impact statement is yet to come.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

This morning I was up “early” to shower and then hang out with whomever was around while my hair was drying. Our classmate Joy and her husband John had volunteered to make sweet potato crepes for everyone, and our eleventh-grade English teacher, who is also here, had brought some quiches to heat and share.

Although I wasn’t eating, I enjoyed just being with everyone and enjoying the various conversations. No one was in a hurry to rush off and do anything, so after breakfast we sat around and visited in the big living room until it was time to say goodbye to James and Ruth, who had to leave after grabbing a quick lunch. I was sorry to see them go as I had greatly enjoyed talking to both of them.

After everyone else had lunch, Tamra and I agreed that we would go for a walk after she had time for a quick nap. Meanwhile, Joy and John responded to my plea for a ride to the local yarn store, and volunteered to take me there since they had an errand to run anyway. By then it was raining steadily.

The yarn store had a surprisingly good selection:

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I dithered for quite a while over my souvenir yarn selection. I finally chose a grey bulky weight wool/cotton blend that I hope will make a warm cowl. In case I ever find myself back in the north in winter . . .

We got back to the house just a few minutes later than I had agreed to go for a walk with Tamra—but it was still raining and neither of us could work up any enthusiasm for getting wet. So we stayed in the house and I at least had a couple cups of tea.

Almost imperceptibly, the rain turned to snow and then it was snowing huge heavy wet flakes that were so beautiful to watch. I put on my fabulous new boots, a hat and jacket, and walked out into what appeared to be an animated Christmas card. I had no destination—I just wanted to revel in the falling snow and take a few photos.

After walking down the road a piece, I turned around to retrace my footsteps.

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It was pretty easy to do under the circumstances.

As I walked back to the house, Patti and Beth were waiting for me in the driveway, wanting to know if I was interested in going on a walk in the nearby park. So we piled into a pickup truck with Patti’s husband Jeff and Ken (Julie’s husband) and drove through town to the park.

By now the sun had set and we found ourselves walking through a spectacular snowy and magical woodland, complete with glowing lanterns and even a dragon’s head snow sculpture.

Forty-two years ago, who would have guessed that this far in the future I’d be enjoying a beautiful walk with two of my high school classmates, in the snow in Washington state?

As the twilight deepened, we drove back to the house so we could participate in a video call to another absent classmate while Julie put the finishing touches on the chili and cornbread for dinner.

After dinner we all stayed at the table, knowing it was our last evening together, and we went around the table and listened as each member spoke about his or her future plans. There was a break to chat with Paula, another friend who was unable to come, and it was so good to see her face and hear her voice. Her parents and mine were good friends in Zambia days.

We stayed downstairs talking for a long time before finally ascending to clean up the kitchen and say some goodbyes. Quite a few people again went out to the hot tub. The snow had stopped falling but there was a beautiful fresh layer of it on the ground everywhere.

As usual, the reunion seemed a little too short. Some people will be gone before I even get up in the morning, and the rest of us will all have to leave before 11:00. I will be driving back to Spokane to spend the night with Julie and Ken again before flying home to Texas on Friday.

Parting Shot:

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In the park this evening.

A Two-Horse Open Sleigh

The first order of business today was to cook up a big brunch. Julie had an ambitious menu—pancakes, sausages, bacon, fruit salad, veggie tray, and egg casserole. Her husband Ken cooked all the meat and made pancakes. Others made the fruit salad. My job was the egg casseroles, and they took a little longer than I expected.

However, eventually it was all done and we found ourselves sitting down to a truly magnificent meal, by which time I was on my third cup of tea. Afterward we sat in the living area visiting and watching some snow fall on the beautiful landscape outside, before suiting up to go out.

The weather has not been as cold as I feared it would be, but I still wore my “new” snow pants with leggings underneath, and my big new boots. We drove a couple of miles down the road where two horses were hitched up to a sleigh awaiting us.

After signing a release form, we climbed into the sleigh. There were some who weren’t interested in this activity, so I think only 14 of us were on the sleigh. The ride went through open field and forest, much of it with truly breathtaking views of the mountains. I loved the gliding motion of the sleigh and the jingling of the bells on the horses’ harnesses.

Afterward, a woodstove-heated tent offered hot cider, hot chocolate, and hot coffee. I felt obligated to drink something in order to get the full experience, so I had half a cup of coffee.

Five of our more intrepid members trekked to a fresh patch of snow and made snow angels while the rest of us stood by and took photos.

The couple I had ridden with (my classmate Chuck and his wife Laura) wanted to see more of the views along the road, and so did I, so we drove farther and saw some stunning displays of icicles.

By this time I was a huge fan of my new boots. I haven’t owned a pair of boots for at least 40 years. I couldn’t even remember what it was like to walk around in deep snow with warm dry feet. I loved it!

Then we joined everyone else back at the house to regroup and snack a little before heading to town to look around. The town of Leavenworth is very touristy and modeled on a Bavarian village, which makes it very pretty. The yarn store was too far for me to go on foot but I made it to the tea store! And maybe a cheese shop . . .

At 5:00 we all convened at a German restaurant for an early supper. The food was good but the company was better! And we still had the whole evening ahead of us. We were even able to face time with one of our classmates who was unable to attend.

During the evening I set up a photo studio of sorts in a different room and then took portraits of each attendee so that we can post them on our class page, and everyone who didn’t come can at least see what we all look like now.

The evening ended with quite a few of my brave classmates going to hang out in the (outdoor) hot tub. I just couldn’t see myself walking barefoot over ice and snow to sit in a hot tub. It looked like they had fun though!

Location Change

Sunday morning we had agreed to sleep in. Since I am dealing with a two-hour time change, I figured I’d be the first up so I didn’t even set an alarm. Ha! I slept in till 9:00, which was actually 11:00 Texas time. I guess my travel adventures wore me out more than I realized!

During the day, Julie and I did a lot of cooking and baking for the reunion and also finished the jigsaw puzzle—which unfortunately was missing two pieces. I drank a lot of tea.

This morning, I did set an alarm so I could get up and take a shower and repack all my stuff for the trip to Leavenworth. I felt a little helpless in terms of helping Julie because only she knew everything that had to go. Eventually, everything was hauled downstairs to the garage and from thence to the bed of Ken’s truck. Looking at all the boxes and cases, I did not think that it would all fit into the truck—but it did.

It was a four-and-a-half hour drive to Leavenworth. The first three hours or so the scenery was very flat and only a little snowy. However, once we hit the Columbia River, the landscape became a lot more interesting. Stunningly beautiful, in fact. Snow, mountains, and rivers.

One classmate and his wife had reached the property before us and were here to welcome us. I was given a choice of rooms and picked a cozy little room near the main living area. Soon others started arriving and the rest of the afternoon consisted primarily of happy greetings and conversations with old classmates, some of whom we hadn’t seen in years.

The basement of this lovely house has a long room with a table that can seat all 19 of us! So that’s where we went for supper. There was plenty of the stew that Julie had made and biscuits and salad and lots of conversation. Afterward we migrated back upstairs and Jim made chocolate chip cookies which featured his homegrown Texas pecans. They smelled heavenly, but I did not give in to temptation.

I drank a lot of tea and have enjoyed talking to several of my classmates and/or their spouses. One of the spouses who came was actually in the class above mine and I remember him well because we were in two plays together in high school. So it was good to see him.

Tomorrow I will help Julie put on a big brunch and then we’re off for some adventures. It’s going to be a great day!