Sunday, July 15, 2018

2018 Week 28: Basque Month continued

Week 2 began without our Basque grandson who spent the night at Sam's place, and with our other illoba euskaldun (Basque grandson). Sunday they all attended their church in Muncie.
The boys came later for youth group at Upland Community Church. They were invited to swim in another host family's pool and roast marshmallows after.  
Gabriel learns to make a s'more

Monday was a commemorative day in several ways:
--Argentina's 202 birthday--9 de julio, Día de la Independencia
--Four years ago, on that special day, in the hospital after Mike's surgery, we watched Argentina defeat the Netherlands qualifying them for the Finals in the World Cup.
--More importantly, 45 years ago, Leah joined our family!

We celebrated her adopted birthday in several ways throughout the week.
First, at Stephan and Karen's Monday Night Dinner, along with Sam's family and our Basque boys.
After the wonderful meal--perfectly prepared venison, various vegetables and Karen's wonderful Apfelkuchen (a German apple cake for the German-born daughter!), we enjoyed a variety of activities.
Leah enjoying the farm and some special gifts!
The guys took turns trying to beat the 30-second clock in the Bull's Eye Ball game.

Kids everywhere spend every spare moment on their devices.

Tuesday, Leah got what she desperately wanted--a hair cut!

Wednesday, the Basque kids spent a day at Kentucky Kingdom (amusement and water park). Michael was the brave adult who drove the people mover, and Elijah the lone non-Basque speaking youth.

Meanwhile I took the day to visit my mother. I could not find her in her room. A tiny beautifully written note on the calendar read, "Play Bingo at the fair." I soon learned that they had transported all who wanted to the county fair for Senior Day. I found her there and we enjoyed special music by The Chain Gang Barbershop Quartet.

Mother is grappling with the losses that come with aging. Her voice has not returned. She mouths or rasps the words, "I can't walk and I can't talk." We will soon celebrate her 97th birthday.

Thursday, was a shopping trip for the Basque group to the Fort Wayne mall. Was it more fun for the girls than the guys?

A week-long focus for Michael was to research, learn about pools, and work with Stephan to get theirs in working order to hopefully provide many fun times for family and friends.

It seemed that every spare moment the boys were home, the dining room table was converted for ping pong. When they got bored of using regular paddles they reverted to other implements such as dust pans, hands, until frustrated they'd had enough!

Friday and Saturday was the Indiana Robotics Invitational, an event that gathers the best teams in the world.

Our Team 1720 was privileged to be invited having been an alternate on an alliance in the finals at Worlds, and especially fortunate that this high level competition is so close, in Indianapolis!   
Michael left very early each morning taking some members of the drive team.

This was also an opportunity to train the new drive team. Those that went to Worlds were all seniors in their very last season. Only John, the tall one, stayed on as coach.

The Basque kids got an introduction to the FIRST program and experienced the Friday morning qualifying matches.
Elijah went home after that and Jon slept for hours that afternoon, again after the evening meal. Saturday morning, after ascertaining that he was indeed alive, I asked him to teach me how to make tortilla de patatas, Spanish potato omelet. He was happy and proud to do so. I was impressed with his performance, the process, and the result!

1. Peel and cube 6 potatoes
2. Fry them in 1" deep oil until crusty on outside and soft inside.
3. Beat eggs, 2 or 3 more than number of potatoes.
4. Add potatoes and 2 tsp of salt.
5. Dump all into small amount of hot new oil (olive) in larger fry pan (preferably a Spanish omelette pan).
6. Turn when bottom cooked and golden.

He barely had enough time to eat a wedge of his tortilla on a slice of bread (pintxo--typical sandwich in Basque country)  before it was time to leave with the group on another adventure, Kokomo Beach and concerts in the park.

Monday, July 9, 2018

2018 Week 27: Basking in Basque

Our activities this week revolved, for the most part, around events and activities on the Basque-month calendar.

Sunday evening the boys followed Esther, a neighbor friend who lives half a mile down the road, to swim in their pool along with the other Basque students.

Monday both Koch's Basque guests, Jon and Xabi, got to explore Dove's Crossing (Stephan and Karen's farm), tour the ice studio, and taste Stephan's cuisine.

Elijah is staying with us to be a friend to Jon this month, and Malachi and the younger ones are keeping Xabi entertained. My "Basque grandsons" taught me how to say it in euskera, their language--Nere illoba euskaldunak 

Elijah, Malachi, Xabi, Jon

Tuesday, we showed Jon how to make BLTs, took the boys for an afternoon of fun at the Splash House in Marion, and then to hear Dennis Quaid and the Sharks. An exciting day with no pics.

Wednesday, the boys joined Kristie's Fourth of July annual holiday family ruenion picnic.
Meanwhile we had friends over who live in Uganda and are visiting the US for the summer.

The Tuggys
The kids all enjoyed the zipline but I only watched the oldest take off.

Later in the day we joined Sam's family for the Muncie fireworks display. There was time for frisbee and fun in the park before dark.

Jude and Zion riding the buffalo

The local resident geese by the river watched us invade their park. I think the picnic experience was rather new and strange for our Basque boys. 

And the fireworks were probably nothing to write home about, considering that in their big city they have an annual week-long fireworks competition! Can't beat that. However, we later watched the video captured by the hovering drones, and that was more impressive.

Thursday started out slow and lazy. We watched a movie with Dennis Quaid in it--Soul Surfer, a very moving story. Jon had seen it twice before, but not in English. He's been to the famous international surfing competitions in his country, in Zarautz.

That evening the Koch men and boys went to and Indians game in Indy.

Right to Left: Mike, Sam, Elijah, Jon, Xabi, Stephan

Friday, Naroa's host family invited the kids to swim in their pool. They had to try out the trampoline first. Naroa (on right) is visiting Upland for the second time. Ainhoa on the left is the older college student or graduate who accompanied the group.

While they were having fun, we were enjoying food and fellowship at Ivanhoes with dear friends living now in the very town our illoba euskaldun (Basque grandson) is from.

The day was not over. Stephan and Karen came over because her parents wanted to try out the zipline! I went down for the first time also! Who said we were too old for such things?!

For Red, our consuegro  once was enough. Co-in-law (consuegra) Dolores was ready to go again!

Saturday, was the planned Koch-out, so as hosts we were focused on food prep and entertainment. I only got one picture of the kids enjoying the outdoors. Looks like their own variation of corn hole. We heard them ziplining, but didn't watch. We were engrossed in after-dinner conversation (sobremesa) with the adults.

"Our boys" spent the night at Sam and Kristie's. The end of a very full week.

In the midst of all that "basquing" we were able to keep up with our regular reponsabilities and routines. Amazing indeed!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

2018 Week 26: Summer Fun

Summer flowers are fun.

Not everything is fun and games, however. Moriah and two mentors worked long hours over the weekend on the tester they designed, and though they were at it into the wee hours of the morning, she was back at the job the next day. Such is the life of an engineer.

Moriah's summer job is with Near Space Launch, a company started by our neighbor. Several of the employees work out of his home. So occasionaly when Moriah runs into a problem, Mike takes his segway and cruises over to give advice and/or consult with the team.

Moriah looks like she's pointing to the tester they designed to check the tiny solar panels for the satellites they are bulding 
One day this week we delivered the office chair she had left in her room and I got to see her workspace. She has a wonderful view of our road. When I go for a walk I can wave and know that she will notice.

We've been following the World Cup, so of course I had to watch Argentina! Tuesday's was an exciting win!

Bee-keeper and bees have been busy. Michael harvested a goodly amount of honey this week.

We miss our ladies group fellowsip during the summer. However this week I saw two of the friends. The grandson of one of them entertained  and tricked us with a magic/illusionist show at a nearby library. 

young illusionist--Hunter Tabor
The next day, Friday, I got together with another friend and her grandson. Patryce and I had two months worth of catching up to do. Can you guess where we went?

Upland's  farmers' market summer offers a delightful array of produce, baked goods, and more as well as the opportunity to meet community friends. The food truck this week allowed for a pleasant evening picnic.

We watched Saturday's  Argentina vs. France soccer game with hopeful anticipation. But, alas, it was the end of the road for my "other country."

That afternoon we welcomed a group of Basque students who will be here through the month of July. We are hosting Jon and our grandson Elijah is staying with us also. Sam and Kristie, with Malachi's help, are hosting Xabi (SHAWvee), younger brother to the student who was with them last summer.

I do believe the boys are having a good time even if I cannot understand or follow the fast game they play.

Many more planned and unplanned adventures await them. The fun has begun!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

2018 Week 25: Summer Stories

No better flower to open with this week, than Leah's surprise beauties, cacti blossoms.

Borrowed from Leah's Facebook

we enjoyed Stephan's demo of how he processes the logs to make beams and planks that will go into building their timber frame home.

We have a snake story. Last week as I drove out of the garage, I ran over something. I looked back and saw a snake coiled to protect it's wounded area. After a bit, it slithered off dragging entrails, then disappeared under the front deck.
This Tuesday when I went out to pick flowers, I perceived a foul odor emanating from the porch. Michael set to work to pull up a board and search under the deck. He successfully extracted the culprit and managed to dispose of the remains in the woods.
I looked out my loft window later and noticed a fowl attracted by the foul prize.

Michael has been intensely focused on working through the problems with the ThinSat, spending most of his time at MadJax. Hopefully they will be able to meet the next balloon launch for testing.
Wednesday he gave a presentation about the robotics program at a conference for high school teachers at Ball State. 
Every day this week I searched for any photos of Elijah on the Mircle Camp website. His expressions are priceless.

 A couple favorites.
Thursday, Alan and I attended a care plan conference for Mother. Her voice strength is still very weak. She has speech therapy daily and will be seeing an ENT soon. The therapists seeing her since she came out of hospital say she's doing fine and have either already discharged her or will in the coming days. Her resilience is amazing. Ivan remembers she used to say, "Life's great if you don't weaken."
I was so happy to find the poster that confirmed she has been participating in the Artcare program and impressed with the quality of her work.
After lunch we visited Aunt Margaret. They are dear friends but communication has become more difficult due to loss of hearing and speech. So they write letters and notes in the meantime.
The rest of the afternoon we watched the World cup soccer game between Argentina and Croatia, entertained but disappointed.

Friday,another long day alone, included: a very special memorial service; lunch at The Bridge, a SEGway to read and work the Sudoku puzzle; a mani pedi; the farmer's market; a little painting; and the daily keeping up with via email, Facebook, among other common tasks.

Saturday, again I kept myself occupied, hopefully productively while Mike was gone again until time for the event we'd been looking forward to--the airing of Now Entering Upland on WIPB. The community residents who participated as storytellers were invited to the studio and helped at the phone stations answering call-ins.

On the air--my view from a side phone station

Sunday, Michael gone again, this time for a great Father's Day gift--time spent together!

A Cubs game in Cinci
Kayla and Rebecca were also alone so we went out to lunch together.

A glimpse of Rebecca in Sunday School
 Now, we prepare for a week of new adventures. 
¡Hasta la próxima!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

2018 Week 24: A miscellany

 I suppose that title could apply to all our weeks.

Sunday we celebrated Matt's 26th birthday.

We are always reminded of  the major housefire we had on that day in 2011. A year later, June 10th, 2012, we had an open house celebration of the rebuilt home. Stephan catered the event, complete with a spectacular ice sculpture of a phoenix rising out of the ashes, beautifully symbolic.

Monday at the dinner we got to see Stephan and Karen's latest project in progress.

Michael went to the dinner straight from a long day at Madjax where he and another mentor were helping Moriah design and make a tester to check the 1000 tiny solar panels that will go in the satellites, part of her summer job.

As very often happens, the task takes longer than it takes! Tuesday they were at it again till almost 3:00 a.m.!

I think Michael went in to Madjax again on Wednesday to work on his own ThinSat issues. It is not unusual for him to come back and say, "We have to make changes again." Countless iterations of the inner workings and mechanisms of the ThinSats, each the size of a piece of toast. He loves what he does, though.

However, I may have had more fun that day, less drudgery anyway. I attended a ladies tea in town where we learned about flower arranging

Different views of the flower arangement at our table
The presenter owns a flower and gift shop in the neighboring town--A New Leaf. She created all these arrangements from flowers and greens picked early that morning from her garden.

Becky Banks is also a professor, so had dutifully prepared a three-page handout--much to learn along with a very practical demo.

My art adventures with the Watercolor Lessons calendar have provided me with a variety of unique cards to give away this time of year for graduations, anniversaries, and birthdays. Every other day or so I enjoy a half-hour of experimenting with mixing colors and using brushes to fill in the sketches as I try to copy the artists' examples.

On Thursdays a few of us get together to do art. Here is our youngest member who comes with her "Gdad."

Friday evening Mike and I attended the preview of "Now Entering Upland." WIPB (Indiana Public Broadcasting) started a series featuring small towns. They had covered three before ours. This year Upland was the chosen destination. A call went out for storytellers, residents willing to share. The response was great and resulted in the longest production to date. We were interviewed April 21. The producers then had the formidable challenge of editing the interviews, selecting from all the materials provided--photos, videos, articles, etc., and putting it all together in a very fluid smooth sequence. 
All that to say, wherever you are in the world, and if you are interested in Upland or anyone living there, watch "Now Entering Upland." Call in to the station to relay greetings or messages, and/or to donate to the cause. As one of the storytellers, I will be at a station taking calls. I must say, however, that watching myself on the huge screen and hearing myself speak, was a rather uncomfortable experience.

Saturday was the Grand Opening of the new nail salon in little Upland. I won a T-shirt and had fun chatting with friends.

Michael was gone on another of his loooong bicycle rides, 56 miles this time.

Two photos from today, Sunday. Rebecca arriving for summer Sunday School wearing yet another cute dress that almost matches Mommy.

And, a photo that arrived via e-mail announcing Elijah's arrival at Miracle Camp.

For a special Father's Day treat we used a gift certificate to Chili's, a treat for me too!

To all the fathers reading this: God bless you for your sacrificial involvement in the lives of your children!