Tuesday, March 19, 2019

March Memories

This post highlights moments of the week more than memories from the past.
Each day counts. The things we experience add up. Daily incremental steps toward a set goal become a beautiful whole in time.

I am reminded of the value of dailyness by the calendar my neighbor friends gave me. I enjoy the challenge of locating and correctly placing the stickers for each day. So much so that I decided to make that my reward for accomplishing a writing goal for the day.

The gift was inspired by a large sticker-replica of a Van Gogh they saw hanging in a doctor's office.

Daughter Leah and I enjoyed a Coffee and Canvas event in our local coffee shop. Her paintings are always more intense, fanciful and rich in texture. Mine tend to be flat. What do you think mine lacks--a bug, a butterfly, greater contrast . . . ?

Photo credit: Laura Smith--Painting with Laura

The best part of the experience was the togetherness. We hadn't seen one another in a while. She has not been able to attend our weekly art club in some time.

Leah and her Coffee and Canvas acrylic (top)
My Coffee & Canvas painting, and art club watercolor exercise--"Surreal Mountains"
My, how the years go by! Son Stephan, our oldest, completed (as they say in Spanish) 48 years on March 12!

A memory from Stephan's 40th celebration

Sunday we celebrated March birthdays.

Stephan (48 on the 12th ), Jimmy (45 on the 26th), Destiny, Skye's girlfriend (18 on the 7th)
Family times are always fun. Jokes and laughter abound. Rebecca as the only little one around, entertained us in various ways. Her presence is still felt every time I come upstairs to the loft, my writing area, and see the arrangement of items on and around the ark.

Sam's family was missing. He had surgery earlier this month--sinus repair and tonsilectomy. Interestingly, the worst pain hits a week later.
I stopped by a couple days after the procedure to drop off some honey to soothe the throat. Malachi was still home on spring break. He is really into board games and was sharing his latest find--Splendor.

 Recently I've been reminded of a favorite author I was privileged to meet years ago. In her 80's, widowed, and healing from a broken leg, she is still writing and winning awards! I dug out her book of life stories to remember her secret. It is something that stood out when I read that first chapter long ago. I wish I had heeded her example at that time. Early on she determined to write, write, write, every. single. day, and not be distracted by the many recommended opportunities--conferences, critique groups, etc. It worked for her!

I am blessed to meet every week with a wonderful group of writer friends. But I also recognize that for too long I've been a wannabee, attending conferences, taking courses, etc. and putting off the most important. These were all very good. However, now I am encouraged to keep on plodding through the letters and the memories, pulling out pertinent quotes and information, and arranging them into the narrative about my life in Argentina, and to write, write, write.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019


Robins have been seen even on snowy days, promising warmer weather. Indiana, however, is known for frequent climate changes.

Like the weather, my writing project does not spring forward as steadily as I would like. However, signs of hope pop up like the robins. My writers' critique group reviewed the chapter I rewrote and had very helpful and encouraging comments. I am so grateful for their feedback.

I keep finding old photos that now mean so much more as I connect them with the letters I am going through. Here is the kitchen my parents put together in our first home in La Carlota. Dad made all the cabinets from the crates that contained their belongings. One container was lost for months. They had nearly despaired of ever recovering it, and were thrilled when it was found and brought to Argentina by a returning missionary. 
The arrival of the famous box was like an early Christmas. Many of my toys were there, pieces of fabric for Mother to make our dresses, and Dad's valuable study books. The high chair Daddy made before leaving the US was in it, as well as the handles for the cabinets. 

An interesting note about that kitchen: Mother commented that some said theirs looked like ones you saw in the magazines, "It’s not quite that but it is nicer than most of the missionaries have and it didn’t cost as much."

The mother who made all my clothes and was so good at decorating each home is now, at age 97, still making lovely art. I visited her this week and saw two recent pieces displayed at the entrance of the Health Center.

I chose that day, March 7, to combine my visit with a birthday celebration for my youngest brother - Alan (56). His sons prepared the meal, I brought the cake. I so appreciated catching up on their lives. We'll have to do that more often!

One of my siblings wanted to know more about our Hoyt grandparents. As I searched my files, I was reminded that Grandma Hoyt's birthday was also in March, the 10th. She would have been 135. 

Anna Leola Dorsey Hoyt
I also found handwritten notes about the grandmother I never really knew. Photos and people tell me I look like her, probably true, both short, round faced, not slim. I have very sparse memories of her. She lived with us some when my parents were in seminary and cared for me while Mother was in class. However, I was only an infant. One photo of grandma reflects her joy as she holds me, her very first granddaughter after ten grandsons. I have a memory of playing with treasures in her lower drawer--buttons and trinkets. On our first furlough, when I was seven or eight, we visited her in her little house in Tennessee.
I do remember my father's sadness when his mother passed away at age 73 in December 1957. I was in eighth grade. We were on furlough living with our Hirschy grandparents in Evans City, Pennsylvania. Daddy was the only one who attended her funeral in Indiana. Mother was only a few weeks away from giving birth to Ivan, child number four.

I came across another bit of "Hoyt history" as I searched the archives. It happened in 1939. The family moved from Ashland, Ohio, to Winona Lake, Indiana. Grandpa Hoyt had already abandoned them. They were following Herman, the oldest, now the acting head of the family. The younger four boys made the trip on bicycles, sleeping in cornfields at night. Nowadays biking is a popular sport or leisure activity. What would it have been like back then? What kind of bikes did they have? How long could it have taken them? So many questions and no one to ask, all four--Garner, Lowell, Solon, Bud--are gone.

Memorable moments of the week:

Rebecca invited me to her tea party! And, of course she had to show me her clean room, introduce me to all her Barbies and horses, model her dinosaur feet and head piece (accompanied by a dinosaurish roar), and read library books including How do dinosaurs learn to read, by Jane Yolen.
Don't you just love all her expressions?!

The big event of the week was Team 1720's first competition. Michael was gone Friday through Sunday. I didn't go to this one, but followed them closely from afar. They had a great start and remained number one the first day. As often happens, the robot lost some functionality and they dropped to third place, which was still amazing. In the playoffs they lost to alliance #7 who went on to beat #1. 

Elijah performing scouting duty; mechanic mentor Mike operating on the Space Walrus

So proud of the two Kochs on the team!

Monday, March 4, 2019

On Frozen Pond

 Frozen in place. That's how I have felt the last two weeks since I lost the chapter I was working on. Stuck. Not moving forward.
The pond at the back of our land
Not that I was inactive, doing nothing, paralyzed. Just not making progress, not moving forward. And the road ahead loomed circuitous and unattainable.
I saw the perfect visual representation this weekend as the youngest grandsons and I explored our woods. We came across ancient gigantic vines. The boys tried to be like Jack and the Beanstalk and climb up to the sky--an impossible challenge, fun nonetheless.
Does anyone want to venture a guess as to how old these vines could be?

Six year-old Jude modeled for me the persistance it takes to make progress. When he came Friday evening, he saw my knitting project laying on the couch and asked to learn. So we got out needles and yarn for him to practice. His little hands had to practice several skills to control the needles, the tension of the thread and go through the steps for each stitch: down in, wrap, pull through, off. Wow! He did not give up!

That kid really loves learning. Next he wanted a piano lesson! But we ran out of time.

February ran out all too soon as well.

An Argentine acquaintance wrote about this on March 1st! And I translated from the Spanish:
I fell into the abyss between February and March.
I’ve banged my head against the wall of dead hours on the corner of two stolen days.I've got injured stellar ribs, calendar fractures, dreams to be observed, some splintered laughs, painful absences, and a moonless insomnia that makes the night infinitely long.In the shadowy hallways a dog barks at nothing.
Vilma Novick
 P.S.: The sun came out. 
I shall go for a walk on the golden sidewalks of March.
I am frankly improved.

It is March. After feeling "stuck" for the last two weeks, I am determined to move forward, march on!

And so it was, that after a fun time with the grands at the Muncie Children's Museum . . .
"Marsh" cashier, Rebecca; reader Kayla in the Book Nook; Jude punching poor Ronald McDonald
. . . and while Michael and the team persistently worked on the robot (he has spent untold hours there this week) . . . 

. . . I grabbed a cup of tea (to wake me up after the busy Meemaw-weekend) and spent five hours rewriting chapter 8!  Thank you, God!

We are grateful that 14-year-old grandson Elijah has made good friends in the PhyXTGears community as well as learning a whole bunch in the mechanical area. 

Elijah, the week's featured student; working on the robot; watching matches to learn scouting skills 
 Memorable Dates:

Six years ago Daddy's body  was laid to rest.

February 24, 2013, the viewing (Photo credit niece Tina Herschberger)

February 25, 2013, the family after the memorial service (Photo credit cousin Stan Hoyt)
Since then, two more family members have joined Dad in heaven. Time is running out. We wait.

Monday, February 25, 2019

More Layers

 Again on my walks I was drawn to the many-layered fungus on the old tree stumps which remind me of my life.

As I work to recover the lost chapter, improve the writing process, rearrange the text, search and research, I continually uncover and discover new or forgotten things from the past.
For example, I learned a lot about snails after reading about them in one of my father's letters.

 Several weeks ago after a rain we noticed that our patio was just covered with snails. We had known that we had snails, but we didn’t realize that they were as the sand of the sea. They are this oblong type of snail. Which one sees in the water, but they have a round shell. I called them wood snails when I saw that at home. We began asking our hired girl if there was some powder or liquid which we could buy to kill them. She didn’t know about that, but she thought she could get someone to gather them. In the afternoon a little boy came to gather them and was he ever tickled. He must have gotten about two or three quarts of them. Those slimy, squashy animals were just wallowing all over each other. I asked him what he was going to do with them. "Voy a comerlos." What? You’re going to eat those things? "Sí, son riquísimos." [they are delicious]. . . He was perfectly welcome to them. They serve them as a delicacy in the better hotels here.  I later learned that the owner of the house had brought those snails here to multiply for himself. [October 19, 1946]
I was as ignorant about the delectable escargot as my parents!

This week I also enjoyed listening to long-forgotten music, events, lectures, stories - all taken from obsolete cassettes and gathered as digitized files on one single DVD. Among the voices that stirred so many memories:

  • our young children in a Saturday morning program on the ship Doulos 
  • Mike and I mingling our own singing voices with all the others in a musical performed at Easter--Breakfast in Galilee
  • the Doulos Singers repertoire
  • Marion and Walter, our dear Austrian friends' songs
  • the Bus family songs  
  • my uncle, Dr. Herman A. Hoyt, giving a lecture--"Daniel and the 70 Weeks"
  • cousin, Dr. Fred de Rosset, being interviewed on Moody Radio for their Spanish program--"Imágenes de Cristo en la narrativa"

And there is much more to come.

Another rescued artifact is this 16mm film on a 3 1/2" reel. In one of those early letters my mother  listed the contents in detail. My parents were so eager to share with family all about their new life - the sights, sounds, people and places. And, of course, a large portion was two-year-old me running around, being cute.

February 21, Thursday, marked six years since Daddy's passing. Immersed as I am writing about that first year in Argentina, I chose a few photos from then that show him with me.
Rockefeller Center, New York, September 1945

Rita's conjunctivitis (1946)
On the back of the photograph in my mother's beautiful handwriting:
This is Rita when she had pink eye. We just took it as she was. Didn't even comb her hair. Notice the handful of rosebuds she had. That's her favorite task, picking flowers.
Dad and Mom's 4th anniversary cake (August 1946)
Vacation in Embalse del Río Tercero
Fast forward ninety years, I wrote a poem about those last moments with him:

Dear Daddy, 
You lingered long years and days waiting for the trumpet call.
Months back when I asked how you were, you could barely whisper
"I'm just waiting." Those were the last clear words I remember.
Your tired body did not hold out, your spirit eager to go.

Yesterday, I talked to you and touched your soft shoulder.
You shuttered and sputtered, breathing was not easy.
I started to sing. I needed to reach you somehow.
The 23rd Psalm came to me, oft sung to my children.

When I came to the shadow of death verse,
I sang loudly "I will fear no evil for Thou art with me."
And again at the end, "I will dwell in the house of the Lord,
forever, forever, in the house of the Lord forever. Amen."

"Lord, take him home," I prayed in my heart. And He did!
Your passing was so gentle, almost imperceptible.
Mother said, "You put him to sleep."
We hugged and cried, so grateful to be there, so sad to be left.

¡Hasta pronto, papá! See you soon, Daddy!

February 22, 2013

A noteworthy event this week was Bag Day--the deadline for wrapping up the robot. There is a mad push in the last week to make sure every aspect comes together and works, so Michael was gone most days till late.  
Here is a video of the final tests before the bagging--https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=562344657611883&t=5

Son Sam is looking on. He was in attendance as one of the parents. Elijah is on the team this year.

At home, my focus is to write, and a diversion is to do art. I am joined once a week by a couple others and we attempt to follow online tutorials on Let's Make Art Together.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Life Layers

On one of my walks this week I spotted a small tree stump overgrown with fungus. It reminded me of my many layered life story. 

Though I am currently focused on writing about my early childhood, I come across memories (artifacts, photos, documents, letters) from one of the many other periods of life.

Digging through files I discovered this layered family schedule--all six of us living under the same roof and each going in a different direction. Michael's 40-hour week schedule was not listed, nor baby Kayla's. We're guessing it was 1992 or '93. How did we survive those crazy days?
Some interesting comments and memories are trickling in on the family Facebook page. 

I came across a photo that reminded me of what I recently read in those early letters when my parents were setting up housekeeping in Argentina.

Last Tuesday the 9th [April 9, 1946] our expensive washing machine came. It is a beauty and we believe we are going to like it very much, but right now there is some defect with the roller gears. The bowl or tub is a green and white mixture. All the other parts are white. Kathryn said she surely didn't want green, but she likes this very much. We have washed with it once and it seems to clean the clothes well. We already had two large tubs for rinsing and so I made two small benches for them. They will be on castors, so it will be handy for her to handle. We also bought a rubber tube to run the hot water into the tubs. right now we are washing in the bathroom because there is a mechanism there for heating the water. It operates like a gasoline stove and heats the water as it runs through a coil. It has no storage tank, but it heats as you draw the water. I imagine you wonder if we can get the water hot enough. Yes, I got it almost too hot last time. We hope however to get a storage tank, sometime, so that we can have hot water for other purposes.
I have memories of helping occasionally with the complicated multi-step process. From my current perspective, I almost wonder whether washing by hand would not have been simpler. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to wash sheets or jeans by hand.

We listen to the Daily Audio Bible Chronological as we eat breakfast. Repeatedly this week I heard, "The Lord said to Moses." And then I could see my two-year old self in an anecdote from the ancient letters.
The other evening we were getting Rita ready to go to the evening service and out of the silence, she spoke up and said, “And the Lord spake unto Moses”. We certainly had to laugh. We didn’t think she was getting anything out of our devotions in the mornings from the Pentateuch, but apparently she had. She also says the word, tabernacle, once in a while around the house. (July 23, 1946)

Moving on to another era, our life on the M/V Doulos in the early 1980's. 
Eduardo from Uruguay, one of our shipmates at the time, wrote about a vivid dream he had, and he mentions me among the few he remembers. Read about it in Servants at Sea, if you can read Spanish, or translate it-- el Doulos en marcha otra vez? (Doulos sailing again?)
Coincidentally, also this week, a photo surfaced from those Doulos days. Our children have such fond memories of their five years onboard.

Doulos children on deck
Valentine's Day had us reminiscing about our love journey of over 50 years--two years of correspondence, 49 of marriage. 
However, the story that blessed us in a special way that day was of a dear couple in our community, also in my writers' critique group--T.R. and Angie Knight. I encourage you to read the blog post and listen to the podcast linked at the very end--Knight Rider--a tale of true love. You will be blessed!

The salient events of the week:

There were multiple accidents due to hazardous weather conditions. Among them was our 21-year-old grandson Skye on his way to work in Fort Wayne early Monday morning. To avoid a truck he was forced off the road, hit from the side or behind, spun around, totalled the car, but gratefully no one was hurt!

That same night, we warned Moriah that our lane and driveway were impassable and she should spend the night on campus. She told us the next day that even walking from the Science building to the dorm was tricky and treacherous.

Michael spent many long days at Madjax as the deadline to pack up the robot fast approaches. Next Tuesday is Bag Day.
I could watch him walking to and fro in the mechanical room, furthering the process of finishing, fixing, fine-tuning the robot they designed, all the while trying to teach and guide young students.
I have trouble recognizing others with this particular live stream camera view. What is the tell-tale feature that allows me to spot Michael?

Saturday, I had a new experience--I joined a group of friends that like to hike/walk/bike. I was slightly outnumbered, they were all men, ha! We walked the Taylor Cross Country course and enjoyed conversation.

  What adventures await in this eighth week of 2019?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Writer's Woes

 My intention of being very productive this week was shattered when the chapter I had been working on for two weeks or more, just simply disappeared. Two other open documents were left, but not the one in which I had invested so many tedious hours of work. That is probably a writer's worst nightmare. How it happened is still a mystery. Is it really possible that I  did not save it even once?
Experts have searched the hidden recesses and inner workings of the wordprocessing program I was using, and nada!

That is when I took comfort and courage from the words Moriah (our resident student) recently painted and placed strategically on her door as a daily  reminder of God's presence and promise.

That was Tuesday.
Wednesday I travelled the hour and half to visit Mother. I arrived five minutes late to accompany her to the dermatologist for biopsies. I set out on my own to find the place, but was given the wrong address. Next I had trouble finding the new office. The receptionist led me to a room and knocked. The door opened, startled I said, "That's not my mother." Oops! Next door. There she was, as brave and cheery as ever.

Things improved after that. We face-timed with brother Ivan in Las Vegas; got a glimpse of three of his little grands jumping around and being silly, and even caught sight of niece Tina. I entertained the ladies at our table in the dining room playing oldies music. We visited the Art studio to see what Mother had been working on. We played Bingo with the old folks.

But the best part, apart from being with Mother, was visiting Aunt Margaret, also 97.

Margaret Marshall and Kathryn Hoyt
 Margaret and Jim moved in next door to us in La Carlota when I was five or six years old. She has graciously allowed me access to all their weekly letters written during the time they served in Argentina.
Discouraged about the writing progress, I tackled the daunting task of sorting the hundreds of epistles into years. These will eventually make their way to the archives of the Grace Brethren institutions. I enjoyed reading snippets as I worked on them. Some of these fascinating stories will surely be included in my book.

1957 Marshall letters

Thursday evening a few homes in our neck of the woods suffered a power outage for several hours. The strong wind brought down a tree that blew the transformer on the corner of our land.
I experienced the extreme limitations of living without electricity in this day and age. 

There is not much you can do by candlelight. I read some, then attempted a few lessons from the cool drawing book.

Michael started the generator as soon as he got home from robotics after 11 PM. Had I been desperate enough I could have attempted the task. Maybe I was having too much fun.

The memorable event of the week was daughter Leah's 46th birthday. Friday evening we had a mini-celebration at Ivanhoe's, the local ice cream shop. Family times are fun!

Earlier in the week I scanned all the photos accumulated over time in the Leah box and then gave her all the hard copies. 
Here are a couple of early memories. We were in Germany at the time we decided to pursue adoption. Finally, when she was already five months-old, Manuela joined our family and became Leah Margit. 

How was your week? Have you ever lost a major project or had your plans disrupted?