A Faire, A Surprising Phone Call, and Chaffles

Today was the opening day of Canterbury Renaissance Festival of Northeast Texas. I was up a little early for me on a Saturday—but most of the faire folk never went to bed! I made tea in a travel mug to take with me and headed out the door about when I wanted to.

I arrived at the faire about half an hour before opening, giving me time to start going from booth to booth and taking photos of everyone’s wares. There are some seriously beautiful things for sale there! It was kind of different going to work instead of just going as a patron. I had to be sure to visit every booth and get at least a couple of photos.

While photographing the gorgeous stuff in the ceramics shop, my phone rang. I looked to see who was calling me and it was a foreign number, so I walked out onto the porch to take the call. It was a man calling from the UK—a man I’ve been trying to get in touch with, but for some reason I haven’t been receiving his emails. He got my phone number from a mutual friend and called me so we can set up a time to meet with him and his wife when I’m in the UK. I went to school with all four of their children. And, as it happened, his daughter was there with him, so I had a lovely chat with her since she won’t be able to be present when I visit her parents.

This is one of the things I love about technology. That I could sit on a porch overlooking a pond in East Texas, and be talking to a lady in England about our shared childhood in Africa! What a great way to start my day.

I spent several hours making my rounds as it got hotter and hotter. A couple of times I took refuge in my friends’ Floyd and Sarah’s booth, as they had air conditioning. I think I got photos of all the performers in addition to the vendor booths.

One of the food vendors made my day. I walked into the building knowing nothing except that they sold some kind of food there. I asked him what he sold and he held up a handwritten sign and I couldn’t believe my eyes. In addition to Scotch eggs (standard faire fare), he offers homemade coxinha (a Brazilian street food), arancini (Sicilian/Italian cheese & rice balls), and samosas with four homemade chutneys. Also baklava and homemade Italian ice cream. This guy is an actual chef and I literally wanted everything on his menu, although alas very few of the items are things I can eat! Everybody should go to the faire just to eat his food. Seriously.

One of my responsibilities was to take a family portrait of the royal family. So here they are:

Some of the nicest people you will ever meet!

I kind of felt I should stay and get some footage of the Highland Games, but when I saw no sign of them happening at the appointed time, I decided I needed to get out of the heat and head home. I stopped at Walmart and got the one food item I needed, then headed to pick up Sammy, who had just returned from an international student retreat.

Once we got back to the house, I decided to try making something that is a keto take on a high-carb food—chaffles (instead of waffles). I changed the recipe I’d seen to make it more something I thought my family would like. Basically, it’s beaten eggs mixed with a little almond flour and two kinds of cheese. And you cook it in a waffle iron to get cheesy waffles that you can use to make sausage or bacon sandwiches with. I was pretty full after eating a turkey leg in the line of duty, but I did try a chaffle and quite liked it! Another thing to add to my list of breakfast/brunch foods.

Back to Work

First, the good news—Jasper felt well enough to go to work this morning! He worked for six hours, until lunchtime, but then he was done. Still, it’s a big improvement.

Today was the “freest” day I’ve had in a while. I have plenty of projects to work on around the house, and I also took a couple of bags of clothes up to the thrift store.

While picking up a couple of things at Walmart, I got an exasperating phone call from the medical imaging center. They said they were supposed to set up a CT scan for Jasper. I explained that he already had the scan on Monday, and the woman argued with me, claiming that he had not had the scan and she had no record of his visit. I told her I had a very vivid memory of our visit and of paying them $400, for which I have a receipt. I suppose tomorrow I will have to call and straighten it out.

In between the various housework-related projects, I did get several rows knitted on my new project and I think I am really going to like it. I will show it to you when I finish it.

I was supposed to have a friend come over today, but she had to cancel, which is why I had so much time to work in the house. Hoping it will work out tomorrow.

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?

Waking Up, An Early Birthday Gift, and A Scam

So it’s been quite a day—my last day before going under the knife. Can you tell I’m not a big fan of surgery?

This morning I had my tutoring student to prepare for and teach. Fortunately, my voice is doing better today than it was yesterday.

While working with my student, I received a phone call from a stranger who made some intriguing claims, so I told him to call me back later. I’m not going to waste tutoring time talking on the phone.

I squeezed in a brief nap before heading out to my first book club meeting. I was more than a little apprehensive, but at least I’d finished the book. I was the last to arrive—thanks to the pouring rain which slowed me down and the fact that I “had” to get a cup of tea from the coffee shop first before going upstairs to meet my fellow club members.

There were ten of us, if I remember correctly. One of the other ladies was also “new,” but the rest all knew each other. I had met three of the other members, and have spent quite a bit of time talking to one of them. They had some themed snacks but of course I couldn’t eat them and that is just fine. I’m starting to think of food primarily as decoration!

Anyway, that discussion woke up my brain in a way that I haven’t experienced for a long time, and I enjoyed it very much. I belonged to a book club years ago, which consisted entirely of people I already knew and liked, and that was wonderful in a completely different way. This group is diverse and smart and articulate. I expected that I’d sit quietly and just observe, but that plan went out the window quite early on, especially as the member I knew best kept directing questions to me in particular. I love feeling so engaged and focused mentally. The time flew by, and by the end I had realized something about my reaction to the book that I hadn’t been able to verbalize until our discussion.

I think I’m definitely going to try to keep up with the books so I can keep going, despite all the other reading I have to do. I know that I will get to read some books that I would never have chosen for myself—which is great. I’m always up for learning something new. In fact, I thrive on it.

I had to excuse myself a few minutes early because I was expecting another phone call from the man who had called during the morning, and sure enough he called while I was driving home after the book club. He wanted to talk about my memoir, This Rich & Wondrous Earth. He had a thick accent, but claimed to be calling from San Diego. He said he represented a hybrid publisher that wanted to “feature” my book at a massive book fair in San Diego in April. He knew a lot about it, including its sales rank in a couple of different categories and the positive reviews it’s had. So far so good, but I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, and sure enough, it did. All this positive promotion and marketing would only cost me $550, because his company would pay the other $100! What a deal!

I didn’t commit to anything and asked him to send me all the information by email, which he did. Meanwhile I Googled his company, ReadersMagnet, and discovered that, as I suspected, it is a scam—and it’s run from the Philippines, not California. (The phone number was a California number, but in this day and age, that means nothing.) There were a few positive reviews of the company, but they were all clearly written by someone who doesn’t speak English very well so I assume they were generated by ReadersMagnet staff.  

So, I declined his generous offer and asked him to refrain from contacting me again.

Meanwhile, my husband got an early birthday gift this evening. His birthday is on Sunday, and the kids and I were having a hard time thinking of what to get him. He couldn’t think of anything to put on his birthday list. Then I remembered that a big Chinese show was coming to the university’s performing arts center this week. The tickets were very pricy, but I knew with my husband’s family background in China, he would probably love it. So several of the kids and I banded together to get him a ticket, Lina volunteered to do his cleaning job for him tonight, and after supper he walked over to campus to see the show.

He did really enjoy it, although he was somewhat surprised to find that the show was a propaganda arm of the Chinese Falun Gong cult. It still was an amazing show and I’m glad he got to see it.

It’s going to be an earlier-than-normal night for me. I found out this afternoon that my surgery has been moved up to 7:00 a.m. tomorrow, which means I have to get up at 4:00 in order to be at the hospital by 5:30. Yikes!

A Trip to the Cinema

When I posted last night’s entry, we were in the middle of a severe thunderstorm, and the tornado sirens were sounding. (For those not in tornado territory, this means that actual tornadoes have been detected in the immediate vicinity.) Obviously I am still here! And today was glorious, sunny, and breezy.

For the second day in a row, I slept in. I get to do it so rarely and I find I am needing the extra sleep after the intensity of the last month. My brother called me later in the morning and we had a nice long chat before I had to go to Walmart to buy supplies for Jasper’s little party.

Walter and Lina came home from work at noon for a quick lunch before the five of us headed to the theater to see They Shall Not Grow Old, Peter Jackson’s tour de force documentary about World War I. If you ever get a chance to see it, you really should. It’s all narrated by World War I veterans talking about their own experiences.

After the movie, we rushed home so Jasper could get together with his buddies for an airsoft battle (the first stage of their Christmas party). Jade was here hanging out, and I went for a walk on campus. It’s the first day since I got sick that I have felt up to walking, and it was such a beautiful day for it.

I got some coals going in a couple small grills and grilled hot dogs for everyone for supper. Jasper and his buddies ate out on the patio and the rest of us stayed inside. Afterward, I sent everyone outside to roast marshmallows and make some s’mores. I stayed in because roasted marshmallows are very tempting to me and it’s best to keep my distance.

I think the boys had a good time. Jasper is so fortunate to have three friends who all live in our neighborhood. I think that is quite rare these days.

Mercy and Daniel made it safely to Dallas and toured two different apartment complexes today. One of them looked quite promising.

A House Guest and a Rosacea Mystery

Yesterday was our second week to visit the church we have chosen to “try out” to see if it is a good fit for Jasper. This is a very new experience for us, but I felt that if we are going to give it a chance, we have to do more than just go to the service on Sunday morning, so yesterday we also went to Sunday School (an option our previous church did not have).

We had been invited to join a group led by one of my husband’s former co-workers, but as it turned out, he was not there yesterday. We found his group, however, and discovered that of the three other couples in attendance, we knew two of them. One couple had been neighbors of ours in the past, and the other had been in our homeschooling group many years ago. That definitely made the experience a little less terrifying.

There was a meal provided after the service, so we stayed for that and socialized with our group (each group had assigned seating). I am still struggling with separating my personal preferences from what is actually important about a church. I miss singing hymns and I miss walking into a lighted room where I can see who is present and which seats are empty! But these are just “preference” issues. It is so different to be surrounded by fellow believers who are friendly and active in the life of their congregation. Jasper enjoyed his time in the youth Sunday School and sat with them during the meal.

One of the people we saw during the dinner was a friend of Spencer’s whom I know is not yet stabilized here, so I invited him to have supper with us yesterday evening (since we always have college students over on Sunday nights anyway). Once he arrived, we found out he’s been living in his car, so we insisted that he spend the night in Spencer’s room. It ended up being a good thing because we had some strong storms move through late at night, and tornado sirens going off, and I sure would have hated for him to be in his car through all of that!

This morning Spencer had a hard time getting up for work after staying up late talking, but he made it! Jasper and I had school and Lucy had things to do on campus.

After lunch I had a surprise phone call from a dear friend before heading out to run several errands. I seem to be running a lot of errands lately, and in fact I have one more to take care of tomorrow.

One of the things I had to do was go to the health food store for a bottle of frankincense oil. This is an essential part of my skin care regime. I’ve been battling severe rosacea for over ten years now, and I also have a “bump” on my nose that I suspect is cancerous. However, if I apply frankincense oil every day it stays almost flat. If I go for more than a few days without it, the bump starts growing and my rosacea worsens. So I can’t afford to run out.

Speaking of my rosacea, I noticed a very interesting phenomenon, which I’m sharing with you here in case anyone else has experienced something similar. You might remember that I experienced a very significant improvement when I stopped using anti-fungal soap on my face and switched to a much more gentle cleanser. I still had the redness, and I still had “zits,” but not nearly as many as before. Then I got the flu after Thanksgiving, and my face cleared up completely and stayed clear for at least three weeks. I still had some redness, but absolutely no blemishes at all. It would have been a lot more exciting if I hadn’t been so sick!

I thought maybe the fever had somehow banished the blemishes, but the research I’ve done seems to indicate that fever would make rosacea worse, so I have no idea what happened. If anyone can enlighten me, I’d be very grateful.

Finally, here is a video that I can’t stop watching. Someone posted it in one of the autoharp groups I belong to, because as you’ll see, the Armenian qanon (a type of zither) is shaped very similarly to an autoharp. These girls are so adorable (I think the front two are twins) and their skill is so amazing. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re playing ragtime . . .

Tsovinar Hovhannisyan “Nur” ensemble / Joplin – Ragtime

International Phone Call and Music

Today started, as most Saturdays do now, with a call from Mercy in Russia, where it is a lot cooler than it is here. I had to hand the phone off to my husband so I could take Jasper to help out with a 4-H event. I stopped at Walmart for a few things before going back home, and still was able to talk with Mercy quite a while!

Later, I picked Jasper up so he could go to work with Walter. I got some sewing, paperwork and music done. Anytime I decide to play a hymn I have already arranged in the past, I go through it very carefully to make sure I used the best possible chords. My skills keep increasing and I am often able to come up with a better arrangement if there’s been a gap of several months or more since I did the first one.

A Bootless Trip to the Courthouse

Well, I survived another Friday. Jasper and I went to Aldi and stocked up on some stuff, then stopped by Hobby Lobby to get a few things. I’m getting ready for a cookie decorating demonstration for 4-H so I am going to have another busy weekend.

This afternoon I was about to walk out the door when my phone rang and it was my friend Donita in New Mexico! It sure was good to hear her voice and get to talk to her.

After that, I went on my errand to the courthouse to get Jasper’s birth certificate. I failed in my mission. The website didn’t mention the fact that the county clerk only accepts cash. I had no cash. A very pleasant lady directed me to an ATM down the hall—which didn’t work. I think I tried over 50 times! So, looks like I’ll be making another trip to the courthouse. It is time for Jasper to get an official state I.D. and we will need his birth certificate for that.

When I got home from my fruitless trip, I did sit down and start working on my map. There is a lot left to do, but I enjoyed having a little creative time.

After supper, I walked over to the campus to go to the Greg Buchanan concert. I have been listening to Greg play the harp for decades now. Tonight, alas, I was troubled by an email I had received and just couldn’t seem to get into the spirit of the music.  When it ended I was more than ready to come home and finish a knitting project. I am really cranking out my Christmas knitting!

A Belated Birthday Bash

Today I got up to make Mary a special breakfast. It was actually her fifth birthday that started our whole birthday breakfast in bed tradition. We didn’t have much money and I wanted so badly to do something special for her. At my (boarding) high school, there had been a tradition that you had to make your roommate breakfast in bed on her birthday. So I whipped up a special breakfast for little Mary and brought it to her singing.

Little did I know that in that instant an ironclad tradition was born. Flynn, who had already had his birthday that year, required a retroactive breakfast in bed just to keep things fair. Every year I create a new menu and make breakfast in bed for the offspring still living here. Now of course, Mary is not still living here, but when we learned that she would be visiting so soon after her birthday, of course we had to have a celebration.

Since she is now married, breakfast in bed would be a little weird, so I made the breakfast but she ate it at the table. She also made her own birthday dinner, since I still can’t be up and around for long periods of time. Last night she stayed up late making a gluten-free cheesecake, and today she completed the preparations for her meal of choice–a spinach salad that we all love.

5-14-15 Mary's cheesecake

One thing Mary wanted was to get her hair cut, so I ended up cutting both hers and Lucy’s hair.

I did get a few other things done, and even ran an errand on my own! This afternoon, Lina called to talk to Mary (for her birthday) and me (for Mothers Day). It was good to talk!

After our fabulous supper, we watched a movie together, which is another family birthday tradition. Traditions are good!


A Birthday Dinner & a Very Expensive Conversation

Sorry I did not post on Saturday. I started feeling very unwell during the afternoon and was pretty apathetic the rest of the day. Thankfully my family managed to put on a great chai party and despite the cold weather there was a good turnout.

Yesterday (Sunday) we arrived home from church to find Flynn’s car already in the driveway, which led to great jubilation. He had come to join us for my husband’s birthday dinner. It also happened to be our monthly day to call Lina, so I tried to call, only to find that our landline was dead. Then I tried to call on my cell phone, only to hear that my plan is not set up for international calling. I was a little surprised by this, since Lina and I text back and forth all the time!

So I asked Flynn if he would be willing to call on his phone, and he obligingly agreed. Most of us talked to Lina, and some of us talked for quite a while, before we finally got cut off. You can imagine my dismay and horror when Flynn texted me today to let me know that the phone call had cost close to $200! I honestly had no idea it was that expensive! When we call on our landline, we go through PennyTalk, and even a conversation of two hours is still under $20. Next time the landline is dead, we will postpone the call!

Eventually everyone was home and it was time for dinner. We had sombrero dip (my husband’s usual request), tortilla chips, and gluten free carrot cake for dessert. Sadly, Flynn had to leave right after supper. Flynn, in fact, is preparing to leave Texas later this month. He has wanted to move to Colorado for some time now. A month or so ago he started putting out his resume. Last week he had his first phone interview. He told me he thought it went well, but not well enough that they had hired him on the spot. Instead they waited till the next morning before hiring him.

So, he has already started packing and I’m sure at some point we will go to help him load his U-Haul and say our final farewells. Instead of seeing him about once a month, I think the best we can hope for from now on is about once a year. I am very happy for him, because I know he’ll love it in Colorado, but we sure are going to miss him!

After he left, we watched a movie and then went to bed. I began to have some warning signs of acid reflux, so I got out of bed and went to sleep in my chair in the living room, only to hear a knock at the door! It was Mercy, returning without her key. Back to the chair I went, only to have Mercy seek me out with the bad news that the bathtub faucet in the kids’ bathroom was pouring out water and could not be turned off. Grrr!

I had to wake up my poor husband and he had to get up and get dressed. He and I spent some time filling every bucket we could find before he went outside in the pouring rain and turned off the main water line to the house. We were up over an hour dealing with that whole mess before going back to bed (or chair, in my case).

It sure was hard to get up this morning and face the fact that I couldn’t have a shower to help me feel better about my interrupted night!

We used our water stockpile to flush toilets and wash hands until lunch, when my heroic Mr. Fixit fixed the faucet and we were back in business.

I taught my two classes this afternoon and was glad to see my students since we had to cancel last week during the snow and ice.

This evening I have been working on an autoharp arrangement and feel that I am making some headway. I have a lesson tomorrow.