Sunday, March 18, 2018

2018 Week 11: Life Mixes

This week we've had an intermittent mix of snow, ice and sunshine. Along with the mixed up weather came a mix of celebration, fun, work and news of hardship and sadness.

Morning ice-glazed view
Stephan wanted to go to Fogo de Chao for his birthday. It is an upscale Brazilian steakhouse in Indianapolis. So Sunday we picked up Diane and joined Stephan and Karen for the exquisite culinary experience. 

Monday was Stephan's actual birthday and he wrote the following on Facebook (smile) 
By this time of the day 47 years ago I was born. I was born in a hospital so as to be near my mother who had just traveled through a blizzard to get there. When I came into the world it was too much to take so I decided not to breath. The midwife knew enough to beat it out of me and then I decided breathing was probably a good idea after all and have been doing it ever since. Having done both the not-breathing and the breathing I have to say that breathing is probably the way to go. Being 47 allows me to be thankful for a few things so much life experience has given me:
A) I'm thankful I am no longer carded for alchohol, lighter fluid, and dry ice.
2) I'm thankful for the new water softener and pressure tank,
C) I'm thankful that I bought Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover 10 years ago for $10. (It has since saved me over $100,000+).
IV) I'm thankful for my lovely wife of 17+ years,
Five) And also but not lastly I'm thankful for my kind and talented parents who keep helping and teaching by example.

Just think all of this has been possible because I was beaten as a child. True story.

We didn't join the small celebration at Monday Night Dinner because we attended Elijah's school spring concert to hear his trumpet solo. We couldn't see him from where we sat, but thankfully someone was able to take photos of him in action.

Tuesday was a strange and beautiful day, with off and on heavy snowfalls throughout. Stephan took it as an extra birthday gift. Can you see the huge fluffy flakes?

Speaking of snowflakes, I was grateful to learn a technique to add some to my finished watercolors in our art club this week. Can you see them?

The friend who took the photos I copied joined our group Thursday
She also gave me a new turtle for my collection and made arrangements for us to have our nails done together afterwards at a new business in town called Polished. She tried her best to persuade me to go bold. "Skin Color" was the best I could handle. Maybe next time.
New turtle members meet; new nails for the month
While a few of us were having art fun, Michael and Moriah were helping Dash (the 3-ball robot) learn to write. Thursday afternoons from 3:00 - 4:00 she teaches a robotics class in a neighboring town to ten elementary school children.

Writing lesson
Earlier this week Moriah contributed to Pixel's wardrobe by sewing the bumper covers for this year's PhyXTGears' robot, even though she is no longer on the team. 

We are grateful she found the time to help and was able to figure out how to use my sewing machine. Most of the time she is gone studying and doing homework with other engineering students.

Friday evening, however, she got away for a few hours to attend the team fundraiser, Quartermania

Our winnings!
Michael's week was intense--late robotics nights, and early mornings designing the satellite. And next week the first competition. So stay tuned!

I mentioned bad news hit our extended family this week--a death, and a difficult diagnosis. So we pray.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

2018 Week 10: A few highlights

Sunday evening we went to Pastor Dan's Open House. He teaches the Sunday School class we attend. The Blossers enjoy having the college students over whenever possible. And we love joining in.

Son Johnny (8 or 9?) had displayed his unique art work. He opens up cereal boxes, reassembles them inside out, textures a design and then fills it in with watercolor paints. I was so impressed. The flowers were my favorite and the bright tones of the sailboat my second choice.

What a fun evening playing the drawing and guessing game--Telestrations.

Monday afternoons, when I remember, I like to stop by for a few minutes and watch Rebecca at the dance studio before I go to my old people's exercise class.

Waiting for class to start
Tuesday I was able to visit Mother again. I've been trying to put up pictures on her bulletin board from different periods or aspects of her life. I love her high school senior picture--a drop-dead gorgeous red head!

The first attempt before I changed it.
Kim came for a short visit. Soooo good to see her after the many weeks she was sick.

Two or three mornings we had snow on the ground.

View out front door
Those who could make it met here Thursday for art club. A friend who would've liked to have come was visiting her mother walking around the farm where she grew up and sent these photos.
A couple of us tried to paint one of the scenes.

I'm sure the flower was not a current photo. It was snowing and cold as she wandered the old haunts.
I tried to replicate the snow flakes with grains of salt, a technique we had learned earlier. Can you see them?

My attempt to do the barn
Friday was the opening of the second movie based on Madeleine L'Engle's bestseller. I read it so long ago, knew it had made an impression on me, but could not remember it. So I wasn't sure if the film would bring it back and do it justice. However, it was a great excuse for a date. I'm still not sure about the movie. Have any of you seen it?

I've also been listening to a totally different kind of bestseller. It kept me very interested and focused on my cleaning goal for Saturday--to spring-clean our bedroom. I'm embarrassed to think how long it's been.

In the process I had to empty the vacumm cleaner and couldn't put it back together. I called for help from our resident engineer. It took us much longer than we care to admit. Surely it has to do with the poor design. Nevertheless, it was a good fun bonding experience.

Michael, the expert engineer was not home, of course. Saturdays are all-day robotics hours. The drive team was busy practicing, gaining experience for the upcoming competitions. The robot design, strengths and weaknesses are constantly being tested and tweeked as well.

Others on the team are working hard on many other aspects to keep "the well-oiled gears of PhyXTGears working best together." The next big event is a fund raiser Quartermania, a type of auction. (Click on the link and read about it.) $4000 worth of prizes to win. (Click the link and watch the video.)
Then come out March 16th, bring all your quarters and have a blast!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

2018 Week 9: Tell me more . . .

Look what sprung up this week? A hint of much more to come.

Last Sunday we tried a new game. Diane has been talking about it ever since. She especially referred to the question about a bad habit you'd like to overcome and decided hers was sleeping too much during the day.

We enjoyed learning more about one another and hearing what others guessed about us.

I stopped by Monday to take a peek at Rebecca's dance class.

Ready for the routine to start :-)

Strangely, that evening both Michael and I felt chilled and achy all over. 
I had intended to go visit Mother on Tuesday, but instead slept a lot. Michael was feeling well enough by late morning to go in to robotics. Thankfully whatever it was, passed and we were able to keep up the rest of our weekly commitments.

Thankfully Moriah has not succumbed to any ailments even though extremely sleep deprived.
Ha! Looks like Michael has not slept much either. I was trying to capture the scene Thursday night when the three of us were going over the paper she had asked us to read.

Friday we had a make-up tap class with a special little visitor. Rebecca surprised and entertained us with how well she followed and imitated her mom. Here you can watch the video of Rebecca's first attempt, and our umpteenth!

With all the comings and goings I was unable to watch Billy Graham's memorial service live on Friday, only some highlights later.
Saturday morning I went back and watched the replayof the entire service--enthralled, blessed, and so grateful for the technology that allowed all of us in on Billy Graham's funeral.

A comment was made that "everyone has a Billy Graham story." An old letter from November 1962, confirmed my vague recollection that I had attended one of his crusades. In fact, three times even during a busy school week. According to this article it was his largest crusade to date.

Do you have a Billy Graham story?

Monday, February 26, 2018

2018 Week 8: Significant Memories

A week of great reflection. I tried to replicate the colors, shapes, and tones from the tiny print of the original. 

And I was quite happy with the result, until now when I enlarged the artist's example and really understood these were cactus flowers.

So it is with life events when we look back and focus on them, we understand so much more. Going deeper also raises so many more ponderings.

I continue to sort through and file the many items rescued from Daddy's desk. I was intrigued by the sequence of passport photos that tell the story of different periods of Hoyt family.
December 20, 1963, we left Argentina as a family and a stamp verifies that we were admitted into New York City on DEC 21, 1963.

A stamp on page 7 clarifies why my face and Lynn's have been Xed out. Mother and Dad left us in the USA when they returned to Argentina. I was in college, Lynn in High School. 

After each homestay or year-long furlough (every five years) the family dwindled. So many stories accompany each era.

Another memory surfaced when a friend called to tell me he'd talked to our favorite teacher. February 18 she celebrated her 91st birthday, and still remembers us! 
I sent her a long letter along with a card and this photo of when Lynn was in her class.

Lynn next to Srta. Dina

Tuesday was the big deadline the robotics team has been working toward--the end of the six-week build season when they bag and tag their robot by midnight.

I wrote and submitted an article to our town paper, the SEGway News.

However, the deadlines do not end: 500 BattHawks to assemble and deliver by March 1st (battery testers marketed to other teams); a ThinSat to complete in various stages before launch date in the fall (Near Space satellite project in cooperation with Taylor University). That explains why I have so much time to work on memoirish stuff. I try very hard to use this gift of time wisely.

My neighbor-friend  invited me to share one of their Martha & Marley Spoon dinners to while away some of the lonely hours. A delightful meal and evening entertainment.

Our resident engineering student has no leisure time, only classes and homework from morning to night, usually after midnight.
I did catch her playing, however, with the robots provided by the Purdue Extension for a mentoring opportunity in the neighboring town elementary school  an hour every Thursday afternoon.

Moriah learning how to operate Dash (3-ball robot) and Dot (1-ball robot)
The biggest news of the week that triggered many other memories was the passing of Billy Graham, exactly five years after my father's death.
Among old correspondence, I came across a humorous birthday greeting my father received from his closest sibling, his brother Lowell two years his senior.
I must congratulate you on attaining to the grand old age of 30! It's quite a change from 29 to 30, isn't it? I felt that way. It's like gaining ten years all in one. By now, if you are ever going to be a world figure at all, you should be speaking to crowds as large as Billy Graham's. I guess you must know that he is getting crowds in evangelistic meetings that are the largest ever assembled in religious meetings in the U.S. But that is going at the hard way, I mean to attain world prominence. You might swipe the crown jewels of England, or do away with the president of the U.S. And the latter might not even bring a great deal of criticism! But even if you did get as important as Billy Graham seems to be, I am sure you could not mean any more to us. The years we spent together were sweet indeed. So, a happy birthday is my wish for you. . .
I was curious to learn more, so I researched. Where was Billy Graham at that time, 1951?
I am very moved by each memorial I read or watch. The global impact of this man totally dedicated to God's purpose for his life is incalculable. Yet I realize our grandchildren don't even know who he was.

Other historic heroes not to be forgotten are the White Rose martyrs. Michael made time Friday evening to go with me to the Taylor University Theater premier performance of "Why We Must Die So Young."

Family celebrations help us reminisce and value one another. Yesterday we celebrated Leah's 45th birthday, belatedly, 21 days late. Each ordered their favorite dessert from Ivanhoe's, hence the birthday candle in Leah's treat. Can you tell we're singing the Krazy Koch BD song?

A couple questions for you my readers:

--What makes a teacher memorable?
--What do you know or remember about Billy Graham?

I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

2018 Week 7: Valentine's Week

My practice watercolor rendering this week of the artist's Joan Miro-style "The Lovers."

And here are some of the expessions of love I received this week. Notice Leah's self-made envelope and Valentine.

Tuesday I visited Mother not knowing their monthly birthday party was scheduled for that afternoon.
The music was delightful. The guest musicians were Dr. Rick Lovelady and his wife Grace.
Ivan joined us and enjoyed the varied repertoire and said Rick had been his  guitar teacher, i.e. "He tried to teach me." He mentioned also that Aldo had made his first guitar. Reading old letters to Mother is where I learned that Aldo at one time had played the instrument. So many revelations in those antique epistles!

Wednesday was the Dancing Divas performance at the Senior Center. We're always a bit nervous beforehand and glad when it's over.

Thursday I was scheduled to spend the afternoon and overnight with the grandkids in Muncie. Sam and I picked up Jude at his pre-school so I'd know where to take him the next morning. 
The little guy was very excited jumping and hopping all over, and had definite plans for the two of us: race around the house and jump on the trampoline! I lagged behind in the races and even got up on the trampoline, but was happily rescued from jumping by a very timely phone call.
My activity of choice was to build a puzzle together. That worked for a while, then "I'm getting more bored by the minute." Actually he had lasted longer than I expected. Eventually, throughout the afternoon, the tiger-puzzle was finished.

Race stance and poised to jump
The other two Koch young'uns arrived in due time. Before Elijah got home from school Zion had planned for us to play Apples to Apples. I had to read and explain the words to Jude, but he did very well choosing the best match.

Later that evening, after the younger boy's bedtime, Elijah and I watched a documentary I'd brought, I'll Push You, which proved very interesting on several levels. Mike and I have been to several of the places on the Camino and knew the story. The big takeaway is how we need each other, the blessing of interdependence.

So where was Michael this entire week? Crazily striving to get the robot ready, hopefully for the practice scrimmage taking place Sunday afternoon (even as I type), and definitely by Bag and Tag deadline Tuesday the 20th at midnight.

Friday morning we pulled-off the carefully orchestrated wake-up/breakfast/catch the bus routine for each child without too much trouble, though it was difficult for Zion to focus on eating when little brother was using his (Zion's) toy pup as a puppet the whole time.

I should mention that Michael joined me at the Muncie-Koch's place for the night. Saved him some travel time. So he was there to enjoy the breakfast antics as well.
Sam and Kristie got a couple well-deserved days away from the hecticity of life. (Or, was it made more hectic so they could get away?)

I just had to include this Facebook sighting of Rebecca with her newly acquired angel wings.

I don't expect things to slow down much, so we'll just keep going with the flow, grateful for the needed strength and guidance each day.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

2018 Week 6: Snow, ice, and delays

Snow much of the week, and today, Sunday, almost paralyzing ice.

Last Sunday was Leah's BIG 45th birthday. We had decided to celebrate today, but had to delay once again due to icy conditions. For the first time I can remember we did not make it to church, our lane was glazed over.

"We will get together yet, Leah." (I love this Mother-Daughter photo I came across this week.) 

I had so few photos of my own this week, so I'm borrowing favorites from Facebook.

Rebecca having fun at Nana's
I have a favorite life-verb--to plod (to work or act perseveringly). This 1000-piece puzzle could represent that concept. We kept coming back to it in spurts, at odd moments, or placing a piece here and there as we walked by. And now it is finally complete. I also finished listening to three books--Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, and a couple Madeleine L'Engle novels.

However, other projects are still in progress.  Michael's all-consuming focus is the robot. In fact, he went in to the shop every day this week and spent hours there, if not all day and into the night. The end of the six-week build season is fast approaching. Next Sunday other teams will join them for a practice scrimmage.

Stephan had way too much fun carving amazing pieces for yet another festival, the Culver Winterfest.
Thursday, he and his helper set up many logo ice sculptures for local businesses.

What do you think? A fair ice-replica of Norman Rockwell?
I had to chuckle when I saw this one. We joked Monday night about "Karen's roses", a bouquet on the table, only the leftovers, the best were for freezing in an ice sculpture.

The ice ping pong table was in use the entire time!

Toward the end of the festival there was a speed carving competition. (Click on the link to watch the excitement.)

Who do you think won, the giraffe or the butterfly?

Meanwhile on the homefront we kept plodding on with necessary chores. Saturday, Michael was gone from 9 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., so Moriah fed the birds. Mike and the birds say, "Thank you! chirp, chirp."

Have a great week plodding on purposefully!