Book Club

Thank goodness, today was a little less intense than the last couple of days. I finished reading my book early this morning and then got ready to teach my class. I am working my students hard but it is good for them, right?

Since I had finished reading the book, I was able to squeeze in a much-needed nap this afternoon before heading off to my book club. I had the bright idea of asking the barista to bring me my tea halfway through our meeting instead of getting it at the beginning. This made things much easier on my prehistoric plumbing.

The book we read was The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. It was a hard, hard book to read—not one that I’d ever have chosen for myself. And we had quite a discussion about it, enriched by the presence of one of our members who is a Vietnam veteran and has written a book about his own experiences.

The ten of us who were there represented quite a variety of backgrounds and philosophies, but I love that everyone is respectful of everyone else and willing to listen to each person have his or her say. Afterward a few of us hung out in the bookstore and kept the conversation going even longer. It was a very thought-provoking book.

I drove home and made supper for Walter and Jasper before heading to the gym. I am walking two miles a day now and it takes a little longer, so I may have to start going a little earlier!

Peopled Out

First of all, I owe you an apology for not posting a hymn yesterday. I am so far behind on everything I want to do and have been working so hard to do it all, that some things have slipped by the wayside.

Yesterday I got up and made a nice breakfast like I always do on Sunday morning. It’s the one day of the week when we all eat breakfast together (all three of us at the moment!). But then I had to rush around assembling a salad and getting stuff together for my day while Walter and Jasper went to church in the van. I also set up the rice maker and got a pork roast going in the slow cooker so the family would have something to eat for supper.

Shortly after they left, I took off also, headed for Arlington on the far side of Dallas (about 150 miles). I ended up at an AirBnB house where the fine folks at WORD were putting on an event for people like myself who are leaders of writers’ groups.

I missed most of the first class, but there were three more, all of which were valuable. I was very glad to have taken a quart of strong hot tea with me because I needed it to stay focused through the afternoon. Listening to everyone else talk about their groups was so helpful and I think I have a better grasp now of what some options might be for our group. Despite spending the entire afternoon in the company of mostly strangers, I felt almost energized.

We ended with an informational meeting and a potluck. I had taken some Greek salad fortified with chicken, and some lemon brownies. I didn’t linger, however, because I had so much work waiting for me at home. Once again, I absquatulated.

The drive was livened somewhat by listening to the audiobook of my book club book, which I am still struggling through. I knew that using my driving time to listen was the only hope I had of finishing the book, because at home I would not have time to read.

I arrived home sometime after 8:00, and got to see Jade and Spencer briefly when they came to get something to eat. Meanwhile, I had two classes to prepare for.

This morning I jumped right back into my class prep and laminated yet more handouts and made a batch of gluten-free brownies for my kids’ snack. I ran out of time before I finished my grading, but at least I was ready to teach my essay class this morning and my Story Quest class this afternoon. The only problem was that as an introvert, I had spent the entire day yesterday “peopling” and I had a long day of more people ahead of me, with no recovery time. This is mentally exhausting to me. By the middle of Story Quest, I was feeling the strain. Those kids are very loud and boisterous and I snapped a little at one of them, for no reason other than that I was so tired of having questions and comments fired at me as from a machine gun. I wish I had just taken a deep breath and hung in there a little longer!

And once the class ended, I had only an hour’s respite before getting back into the car and driving up to Mount Pleasant for a meeting about the Renaissance Faire. Once again, I used the driving time to listen to my book.

The meeting went pretty well, but it was difficult for me to stay focused when all I really wanted to do was curl up and hibernate for a couple of months! We are in the final weeks before the faire and there is still so much to be done.

Twilight was deepening when the meeting ended, and as I walked out to the car I was greeted by the sight of the brilliant full moon. I drove home by its silvery light, once again listening to my book. Book club is tomorrow, and I think I’m going to be finished by then!

Before It Blows Up . . .

I apparently forgot to post this yesterday . . .

We’ve been having problems with our microwave. It still does a fine job of heating stuff up, but the problem is that it turns “on” whenever you open it, leaving us all to wonder if we are being bombarded with radiation. Jade said that her family’s microwave did that too—“before it blew up.”

So, I resigned myself to the inevitable and ordered a new microwave from Walmart. I got the biggest one I could find (out of over a hundred models) but when Jasper and I set it up today, I was dismayed to see that it is smaller in every dimension than our old one. I fear that my days of being able to microwave a 9×13 glass pan are over, as are my days of being able to put any tall container in the microwave. It’s okay. I’ll adjust. Microwaves have always made me nervous anyway, but sometimes they are just so dang convenient.

The nice thing about having to replace the microwave is that I also had to reorganize that whole part of the kitchen, which desperately needed it. If only I had time to do more of that instead of what I really did have to do today—which was a lot of cooking and school prep and critiquing and laundry.

A Class & A Meeting

We made it to Friday! Our family of 12 is now living in 6 different places (but 3 of them are in Texas). Lina continues to settle in at her new place.

This morning I taught my essay class and then this afternoon I did my grocery shopping. The next three days are going to be very busy and I am trying to figure out how to get everything done.

I also did some reading on my book club book, which I am not enjoying. So much more to read before the meeting on Tuesday!

This evening was a writers’ meeting, a group that I am not in charge of so I can just go and listen. The speaker was a former professor of Mary’s who has left the teaching profession and is now crafting websites. I missed my friend Barbara who normally keeps me company at these meetings, but I was able to take a few notes about author websites.

The restaurant where we meet is kept very cold and the seats are hard on my back, so the moment the formal part of the meeting was over I absquatulated.

New Class, Same Students

The power outage last night hit late, well after a strong windstorm had blown through. When Walter came home from work I had enough lanterns lit for us to find our way around the house. Before going to bed, I went around turning off the lights I thought I had left on.

At 1:30 a.m. I was jerked out of my well-deserved slumber when our bedroom light suddenly blazed forth. I leapt from the bed to turn it off, hoping I would get it before it woke my husband up. Then I went through the house and found quite a few more that I had missed! I sure was glad to have the power and the air conditioner back on, though.

Today was the first day for my essay class, which is one I haven’t taught for a while. A couple of students changed their minds about taking it, so I only have four teenage boys, three of whom just finished taking my paragraph class a week and a half ago. The other one took the paragraph class last summer. So everyone involved pretty much knows what to expect! We will be meeting every weekday morning until Friday the 26th, so I am back into more busy-ness.

After lunch I took care of a few chores and read some more in this month’s book club book. I am finding it very slow going and have yet to be very interested in it. So, after wading through a few more pages, I took a break which consisted of taking a box of books to the bookstore, getting a cup of tea there, and talking with the owner while browsing through a book of knitting patterns that someone had just brought in. That book never made it to the shelves of the store . . . .

Here’s how I see it: if I take in, say, fifteen books, and I walk out with three, I’m still winning, right? I’m still reducing the overall number of books in my house. My ironclad rule is that I always have to take in more than I take out!

Parting Observation

Seen in the gym parking lot this evening: a girl of maybe ten years, wearing t-shirt and shorts, big fuzzy pink winged pig slippers, and sipping with delight on a milkshake. That girl was clearly living her best summer life right there.

Three

Note: I wrote this last night but was unable to post it due to a power outage.

When Lina was born a “few” years ago, we became a household of three for the first time. Today, when Lina moved out, we became a household of three again—at least for the next month while Lucy is still in Alaska!

Lina has done a stellar job of restarting her life from scratch after nine years on the mission field. She got a car and found part-time ways to make some income while diligently seeking a fulltime position, which she now has. Her sister Mary did a fundraiser to provide some funds to furnish her new place, as she had very little furniture of her own.

So today we borrowed a neighbor’s SUV and towed our trailer down to Lina’s new apartment in Nacogdoches—twice. (Our trailer is quite small.) On the first trip, we took most of the stuff, packed into two cars and the trailer. Her apartment is quite charming and the entrance is shaded by blooming crepe myrtles:

Since I am not supposed to do heavy lifting (and since my arthritis makes it impossible anyway), I worked on stuff in the apartment—lining drawers and shelves, putting away silverware, hanging up a shower curtain and a bunch of clothes, etc. Lina and Walter lugged everything in through the heat and then they took off to pick up Lina’s piano, which she was given by her new headmaster. Getting the piano out of the trailer and into the apartment was a major challenge. They really needed by help, but I was completely useless because I have zero grip strength due to my arthritis. So they ended up having to roll the piano on the sidewalk which was far from ideal. Once the piano made it into the living room, Walter began putting some stuff together. Lina helped him assemble her bed frame, and then while she went to get the requisite hot dog supplies for lunch, he assembled her dining table and chairs.

If you’ve read about any of our family’s previous moves, you know that a requirement is that the first meal in a new house has to be hot dogs. By the time Lina returned and cooked the hot dogs, she had a table to sit at and chairs to sit on!

As soon as we finished eating, we had to get back on the road to come get the rest of her stuff, including her loveseat and her comfy wingback chair—and her cat, who was very disgruntled after being subjected to a bath. It takes about an hour and fifteen minutes each way. While Lina and Walter loaded the trailer, I grabbed a quick cup of tea. I needed it!

The second unloading went much more quickly, and I had more clothes to hang up so at least there was something I could do. It would have been nice to stay and help her for longer, but Walter still had his cleaning job to do, so instead we went to Chick-Fil-A and had a quick supper before saying goodbye.

As soon as we got home, Walter had to leave for work. I went to top off the tank in our borrowed car and return it, then went to work on getting ready for tomorrow’s essay class.

And finally, two months from today I fly to London. I have planning to do!

Parting Shot:

Lina by her new front door.

Lina’s Last Day

This morning I was up getting ready for my tutoring student. It seems like every time I’m trying to get ready for him, either my computer or my printer acts up and I end up being really stressed. But anyway, I did succeed in getting everything ready in time.

After he left, I ran an errand and then came home and took a nap. I no longer have time to do that every day so I am happy when it works out, because I am still often tired.

Lina of course was packing and sorting all day. I worked quite a bit on preparing for my essay class which starts Thursday. I did a lot of printing and laminating. And Jasper came home in really bad shape, suffering from heat exhaustion. Apparently he thought he didn’t need to take shade breaks while working outdoors in the heat today. After drinking lots of water and taking a shower, he started perking up a little. Maybe tomorrow he’ll be willing to take his breaks!

Our neighbor dropped her car off so we can use it to pull a trailer down to Nacogdoches tomorrow. Lina and Walter worked hard to load the car and trailer, but it still looks like it will take two trips. The trailer is quite small.

I did find time to squeeze in my walk at the gym this evening also. I added another couple of laps so by next week I should be up to two miles a day.

Tomorrow will be a busy day as we take Lina’s stuff down to her new apartment. I can’t do any heavy lifting but I should be able to help with unpacking once we get there. Lina has never had her own place here in the USA, so this will be a first for her. And did I mention she’s taking one of the cats with her? Neko, sometimes referred to as Ginger Pants, is moving to Nacogdoches with her. He has no idea.

It’s Saturday AGAIN?

Today felt like our third Saturday in a row, since both Walter and Jasper have had the time off from their regular jobs.

Since Walter and Jasper did their yard jobs yesterday. Walter and Lina had this morning to finish up the floor job and put everything back in place. Those daycare kids will have sparkling floors when they return on Monday.

I had a very long to-do list for today. Even though I was busy all day, I feel like I didn’t make much headway.

I had a bunch of sorting and putting-away to do, to clear off something we are giving to Lina when she moves out in just a few days.

I took Jasper to Walmart as he had something to return and I needed a couple of things too.

Looking at the way the day was shaping up this morning, I gave up on making crumpets and instead made sourdough ham-and-cheese crepes for lunch. I hear they were tasty. And in case you’re interested, when I make savory crepes with meat and cheese filling, I make a spread to go on the crepe before I add the meat and cheese. I mix together two-thirds mayonnaise with one-third Dijon mustard, then I stir in as much Parmesan cheese as I can and still have it be spreadable. The spread really seems to enhance the flavor of the meat and cheese.

Whenever I needed a break from whatever else I was doing, I knitted for a few minutes. I made some progress, but didn’t get to where I wanted to be by this evening.

I finally cut out my dress. This isn’t even the real dress. This is a practice dress I am making from a couple of sheets so I can see if I like it enough to make it for “real.” I am modifying the pattern and am not at all sure that the result will be as attractive as I hope.

I spent hours going over book lists and doing some planning for the next school year. My “regular” classes start just six weeks from Monday! I have SO MUCH to do to get ready! And still three summer classes to teach too!

A Busy Day

Today was the first time in a month I was able to do my regular grocery shopping at my regular time on Friday morning. It will be another month before I can do it again, but it was nice to get it out of the way this morning. Meanwhile, my husband was getting a lot of yard work done.

As soon as we got the groceries put away, Lina and I headed up to the yarn store. We always go in January and July, because those two months everything in the store is on sale for 20% off. And I actually wanted to look for yarn because I thought I was getting some on Ebay and was outbid at the last moment!

When we returned home, I had two chickens to cook and pick for a meal I’ll be making in the future. I just like to have that job done ahead of time as it is my least favorite part of any chicken recipe. And I enjoyed a phone call with a dear friend.

I also indulged myself be doing quite a bit of knitting on my new project, and then I made pizza. Once again I have neglected my sourdough starter and had to revive it before I could make the dough for the crust. I need to start scheduling sourdough recipes on a regular basis. It’s hard to remember to do it when you live a grain-free lifestyle and don’t really think in terms of bread anymore. Maybe I’ll make crumpets tomorrow if anyone wants them . . .

Walter and Jasper did their yard jobs today because one of their clients is hosting an event tomorrow. It was very hot but they got done quickly because the grass was dry.

Lina spent the afternoon with a friend before joining us for supper. Afterward we had a family movie night and I worked on both of my current knitting projects. (Actually there is a third project that’s languishing because the others are more urgent.) Sometimes I wonder if I’d bother to watch videos at all if I wasn’t able to knit at the same time!

Parting Shot:

Jasper’s been working outdoors for about a month now. Can you tell which arm is his and which is mine?

Starting Over

How was your Independence Day? Ours felt kind of like a Saturday. Walter went to work on floors. I cut Lina’s hair, then later took Jasper to Walmart to get some work pants, since he ripped the ones he was wearing yesterday.

I also did a bunch of knitting while waiting for Jasper to get up—on the project I started last night. And just as I used up the last of the first skein of yarn, I realized I had been following instructions for the wrong size and in fact had cast on the wrong number of stitches. Grrr! I had to rip out all my hard work and start all over again. I hate it when that happens.

Lina and I watched some Netflix while I worked on re-knitting what I had already knitted, and she worked on sorting all of our playing cards. We had a drawer full of card decks left over from chai party days. She was able to put together 17 complete decks of cards! I think some of them will be going to a thrift store. I certainly can’t imagine ever needing that many again!

I made homemade ice cream and corn on the cob and cauliflower “potato” salad. I chickened out of grilling the sausages out in the heat though, especially as there were only three of us. Spencer and Jade had other plans, and Jasper was invited over to a friend’s house for the evening.

We finished up by watching a video while Lina and I knitted, and then I cut out some pattern pieces in hopes that I’ll be able to cut out fabric tomorrow. I have an idea for a dress design but I needed a pattern to base it on. Of course, I still have a jillion things to do before I start teaching again next week . . . .