Saturday, May 28, 2016

2016 Week 21: New beginnings

It has been a week of settling into new summer-break routines--resuming regular exercise opportunities and working on daily writing goals.

Monday, on my way up to the studio where we have our tap class, I noticed one beautiful big amapola (poppy). By Friday, there were several.


The same day, Michael invited me on a tandem ride! Couldn't turn that one down! The last time was a year ago. We didn't go very far, but his leg pain returned so no more tandeming that entire season.


This time we had a perfect pain-free ride and began to entertain the possibility of another tandem vacation this summer. We've done that at least five times, the last time was in August of 2013 to Northern Michigan and Mackinac Island.

On the first leg of a tandem-only circuit trip in 2008
I don't think we will ever attempt the tandem-only camping like eight years ago.

Tuesday, a thirty-minute drive to town for my every-six-weeks hair appointment, even though my lovely hair dresser lives across the road from us!


Wednesday, last year's walking friends got together for our first walk of the season. We admired the finished building at Taylor, stopped by one of the ladie's home on the way, and ended up at the coffee shop.

 Can you guess which pastry was most tempting?

At the senior's lunch there was a Remembrance Table. Do you know what each item symbolizes?


 Thursday, May 26th, Michael caught up with me in age! We're not big on celebrating our birthdays so, of course, he wouldn't miss a regular robotics work evening. I surprised him with his favorite dessert, a blitz torte, and his adoring student-fans brought cupcakes and ice cream. There were only a few present. The others don't know what they missed!


For days he's been making a special "bee house" so they have a place to go when they begin to multiply and swarm. He put together some 34 frames ready for the honey bees to build their combs.


He is much like the bees, always busy and productive!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

2016 Week 20: A Quieter Week

The weather is lovely right now. I enjoyed a nap out on the deck this afternoon.


Mike is out riding his bike as I write, and has been able to get out regularly this week for 20 miles each time.

It was a quieter week for me, maybe not so much for Michael who is a an example of diligence and is involved in a variety of endeavors that keep him going all the time. Sorry not many photos to prove it.

It was my birthday week. Cards and very meaningul greetings arrived daily.


The highlight for me was a birthday breakfast, Wednesday, with four friends. I invited those who knew me the best and asked for their wisdom for the future. 
With each passing year I am more aware of the urgency to wisely live out the remainder. The admonition from Hebrews 12:1 stood out to me: "let us lay aside every weight..." and "run with endurance the race that lies before us". We talked about our cultural abundance that can become a burden, the many distractions of life; the importance of determining what our priorities should be and pursuing them. Not only concrete stuff, like clutter, deter us from purposeful pursuits, but also emotions and attitudes, such as worry, fear, anger, etc. 
I treasure the time we spent together, the memories we shared, and the lessons I take with me into the new year. Thank you, dear friends!


The next day, we had a delightful little visit with Kayla and Rebecca who stocked up on boxes from our attic to help pack up their household in readiness for their move, hopefully into their own home soon.


Muncie's Moonlight Movies kicked off Saturday and Team 1720 was invited to entertain the crowds before the showing of Big Hero 6. Their ads stated: "check out what the PhyXTgear Robotics Team has been up to this year."
Sir Minus (the alternate robot) was busy pulling wagon-loads of kids around with the help sometimes of Mike on the segway, when he became overheated. Sir Plus stayed home. With four competitions left this year, he can't risk being damaged or overworked. 
Team members were busy in a variety of ways promoting the team, entertaining. Moriah was interviewed live by radio station Star 106.9. And the event announcer repeatedly referred to the fact that this team is ranked 37th among thousands!




Movie Night @ Canan Commons

Tis the season for graduations, open houses, bridal showers, and then weddings.
What are your seasonal activities?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

2016 Week 19: Annual Celebrations


I discovered  this lovely columbine in a hidden place, and almost missed the humble and fragrant lilies of the valley.

Flowers of the week

So many yearly events come together in May--Mother's Day, proms, graduations, bridal showers, end-of-year party, medical and dental checkups, birthdays.

The week began with Mother's Day greetings--phone calls, lovely cards, sweet and moving words-- that help to erase the memories of past failures.


Leah's gift of three more little turtles add to the "Koch turtle family." Can you match them with the grandsons they represent? Below, a five-year-old photo to help you. Wish you could see the fine details on each one.


Malachi and Lexi's prom photo this week may give you another clue.


Tuesday I turned in semester grades and Wednesday evening attended the pinning ceremony for the ASAP students. There I met some of the family members and befriended a six-year-old little brother who invited me to sit with him and because we both have May birthdays, he asked me to come to his party next year!


Friday we had a delightful though brief visit from our friends from way back, reminiscing about our early days together in Vienna, Austria, and even before that in Germany where they were married. Many more long-forgotten memories have surfaced as we read their recently published memoir Stones of Remembrance: Mapping God's Faithfulness through 46 Years--the most recent book in Mike's car for me to read aloud whenever we go somewhere together.


Dave and Brenda examining Stephan's sculptured tree that tells the story of our life.

The week's big deadline to work toward was "Mike's Party"--the robotics team end-of-year celebration. Yard and house required a lot of attention having been neglected for a time.

Kayla came for a little visit and seeing that I could use some help, offered to rake out the flower bed which lay protected by leaves for the winter.
Rebecca played contentedly with her toys and clapped for Mamma every time she revved up the leaf blower.


Then I planted the annuals in window boxes and elsewhere in the flower patch.

Saturday morning Kayla texted that she was on her way to help again! It was a rainy cold day so we tackled the inside of the house. She saved the day! Everything was in order by the time the crowd began to arrive. By late evening there must have been some fifty people coming in and out. The young folk playing with nerf guns, swinging around the tree, playing card games or chess. The adults chatting, catching up on one another's lives. Then there was the FOOD, as always super abundant.

My favorite part of the evening was the sharing at the end--a look back over the opportunities and blessings of the year and the open doors for the future!

Believe me, I took many more photos, just don't want to bore you with them.

I knew we'd have plenty of leftovers so why not invite the family over on Sunday with the excuse to celebrate May birthdays. I've heard that it saves time and effort to have piggy-back parties.
Again, I have way too many photos. Here are just a few.

What's everyone looking at?

The young'uns bring us much joy.

Can you guess what our main entertainment was?


Monday, May 9, 2016

2016 Week 18: Commencements and more

Most mornings Michael prepares a very nourishing breakfast for us. On this day he thought it also looked magazine-worthy. Notice the kefir he mixes himself, and the coffee he makes for me even though he does not drink any.


At Monday dinner Karen had some flowers on the table that abound right now. We both were trying to find out what they are. So I consulted our expert friend Cheryl, curator of Ball State's orchid collection. She sent these links  and notes: Packera aurea (golden ragwort),  "check the basal leaves. If they are round, they are Round-leafed ragwort. If not, then Golden. Or perhaps Packera glabella (butterweed).

Variety in our yard                             Stephand and Karen's
I have enjoyed the profusion of yellow in our yard, but alas, the growth was too tall and Michael started mowing today.

Speaking of wildlife--this week Sam has been posting several interesting photos taken on his travels through South Dakota. This was my favorite.



Tuesday was my last day of Spanish classes at Ivy Tech. My students were a little wild too!
It was hard to say goodbye after such a fun and productive year together.


Michael has been intensely busy preparing for two events: 

1) Wednesday a meeting with the GearBox organizers, a group planning to transform a large vacated building into a makers space. They very much want the robotics team to be based there. This fall could bring some big changes for PhyXTGears.


2)  Thursday was the:



Team 1720 promoted their various programs at this city wide event. Sir Plus, their primary robot was being shown off while Sir Minus, the secondary practice robot, was pulling passenger wagons.
Watch the Robot Train.

Meanwhile, I had my own events and activities.


Wednesday my girls and I were treated to Mary Kay facials.


Thursday I headed up to Winona Lake for the commemorative events planned for the class of 1966.

Dr. Hoyt (Uncle Herman) was president of Grace College and Seminary

Friday we rehearsed for participation in the 2016 commencement to march in ahead of this years' graduates.


Saturday I enjoyed the grand event from the front row aisle seat. (Thanks Terry White for this photo!)


The best part was getting reacquainted with classmates from 50 years ago and hearing stories from their life journeys. Most, if not all, were teachers or preachers who had influenced many lives for good. I may have to write a separate post to record all the wonderful memories.

The same day Jared was graduating from Anderson University with a Music Education major. 
They spent the night with us and left Sunday morning to head back to Arizona. 
Our friendship with the Bowyers, which began through a blog, continues to bless and amaze us.


Quite enough for one week, right? Oh, but I cannot forget my mother! I enjoyed her hospitality and  catching up on her life. She is feeling much stronger than last time, after the pneumonia hospitalization, and has figured out how to be completely independent again, so she "fired" her outside help! 
The weekend was event-filled for me and I failed to get a photo of us, so I'm posting an older Happy Mother's Day pic.


Mother still looks as lovely as ever.

Monday, May 2, 2016

2016 Week 17: Remembering


Flowers of the week
 Sadly there were very few lilac blooms this year and their life-span was all too brief.

Reminders of the brevity of life are ever present, urging us to make the most of each day.
Wise care of our earthly bodies and stewardship of our time and resources becomes more important.
Michael is a great role model. He occupies well, does not waste time, and somehow manages to exercise regularly (just got back from a 19 mile bicycle ride).

So I try to fit in exercise, preferably with others. Monday was a beautiful day, our group was invited to go outdoors to one member's back yard.


Tuesday afternoon at Ivy Tech we tried class outside for awhile, but it was too warm and bright.
I guess we are spoiled by the indoor comforts and conveniences.


I really liked the reflection of our group in the windows and the studious expression of one class member.

April 26th was the tenth anniversary of the Taylor University van accident that took five young lives. The story of the two mistakenly identified was reported and revisited on the national news. The girl buried and believed to be dead for five weeks before her true identity became known, is seen here speaking at her alma mater in Wednesday's commemorative chapel.
Her father was our kids' youth pastor when they were teenagers. She was very young when the family moved to Michigan.


Whitney Cerak Wheeler [Photo and link to the chapel service found on youtube]
Published on Apr 27, 2016
Whitney (Cerak '09) Wheeler was raised by a loving, Christian family in Gaylord, Michigan. She was active in high school and that continued over into her years at Taylor University. She lived in Olson Hall, met amazing people at TU and majored in Psychology. Since college she lived in Kenya for 2 years with her sister and married Matt Wheeler who is in the Army. They are currently living at Fort Bragg, NC and have 3 beautiful children - Zachary, Rebecca and Samantha.

I enjoyed listening to both commemorative chapels and then went on to a few others, including the one in which my second cousin was the visiting speaker. 
Published on Apr 13, 2016
Originally from Berne, Indiana, Karen Muselman Thomas earned degrees in communications and piano from Taylor University in 1987. Upon graduation, she worked for five years in the admissions office at Taylor directing travel recruitment. In 1995, she completed her Master of Divinity degree at Asbury Theological Seminary, where she has served on their Board of Trustees for over twenty years. Karen has held pastoral and leadership positions in several churches and regularly teaches the Bible in a multitude of venues. Karen has joyfully served as a member of Taylor University Board of Trustees since 2007. Karen resides in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband David and serves as chief chauffeur for their three active kids Luke (15), JP (14) and Mary Esther (11).
  • Speaking of relations, my sister-in-law's niece visited us Wednesday evening. She had to check out the famous sculptured tree and, of course, I had to sneak a photo.


 A couple squirrels were photo-worthy as well. This one was so absorbed in munching what the birds dropped from the feeders above that it seemed unaware of my presence.


This one doesn't seem to mind my watchful turtle on the window sill.


Friday Mike was sleeping off the effects of a wisdom-tooth extraction, Stephan was in the woods loading up some logs he cut for the timber-frame house he plans to build, and I wandered about admiring the views.

Fungus amongus; Heavy log-loading process; View of the house from the lane
No weekly blog post is complete without an appearance of our great granddaughter. This was my favorite of the almost daily photos Leah posts on Facebook.



Saturday was cool and rainy. Sunday, started out beautiful and sunny.
We visited the Mount Pleasant Community Church in Daleville where Stephan and Karen have been attending since they moved to that neighborhood. He was the guest speaker. His talk--"Remembering Missionary Days"--about growing up in different countries and cultures and life on a missionary ship, was fascinating, even to us who lived it with him! He has such a good memory!



We had at least four different events we could attend in the afternoon, but chose to stick with the family-related. 
Kayla led her many groups of little dancers in their spring recital at Cornerstone Center for the Arts--adorable little ballerinas, teeny tiny tappers, cute hip hoppers, and more.


A family member's van totaled early this morning and a life spared, remind us again of the value of each day we are allowed with one another.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

2016 Week 16: Busy Bees

The robin looked at me and said, "Spring is definitely here!"


I picked the last of the daffodil/jonquil/narcissus, all the late-bloomers in that family, and enjoyed them all week.


Monday night Mike pulled an all-nighter to rendezvous in Illinois at midnight with the shipment of bees he had ordered from California. They had been delayed in Nebraska due to snow.

So Tuesday morning he was busy installing them in their new home.


 He's been closely monitoring their adjustment and progress.


Mike delivered Sam and Kristie's bees that same day and guided that transfer. Their busy bees have a lot more native wild flowers to feed on.


Robotics has slowed down considerably. Perhaps the beesiness busyness helps overcome the disappointment of not going to World Championships this year.
But it's just like Michael to keep active and exercise as much as possible.


And with warmer weather comes mowing season.


 Mommy Kayla and Nanna Leah stay busy running after a 20 month-old who thinks she's in the "terrible twos" (smile).

In time-out
 My life hasn't slowed down yet either. Saturday was an interesting day. You might say I keep the Sabbath. It seems that's usually the day I do something very different and forget about teaching, the house, and the usual.
The night before I decided to sign up for a race and join Debby, my consuegra, Kristie, and Elijah who was running his very first 5K. The day was so beautiful, my time was surprisingly okay for not having run in many months, and we had a lot of fun together. We agreed that we'd like to find more opportunities like this.


It was a color run. Elijah especially insisted on covering himself with every color possible.

Then I got a surprise phone call. A friend from our time in Europe, even from before we were married, said they were on their way to Taylor University for a granddaughter's recital that very evening!!! So we were delighted to get cleaned up and meet them there. So many fond memories of 40 or 50 years ago...
Actually our Stephan was named after her first husband who passed away 25 years ago already. We enjoyed hearing the story of how Diane and Cliff met a couple years after their spouses died, and also meeting members of her new family of 22 years now.


Amazing how many of our friends from the past make their way through our little town.