Saturday, August 29, 2009

Project 365: Week 35

It was a quiet week in Lake Woebegone...I mean Kochland, or at least quieter. No house guests, alone, until last night when the younger grandboys spent the night.

Here is this week's randomness.

First, my camera died, so I am trying another one and just spent hours trying to upload the photos through another system. Grrrrr!

Such as they are, they speak for this week.

We actually rode the tandem again for a breakfast date at McD's 8 miles each way.

On the way back we stopped to buy fresh produce out in the country and had to figure how we would carry eggplants, tomatoes, squash and beans on the bike.

Grandson Skye finally got his promised bow and started practicing.

Dropped by to see the daughter. She is so proud of her sunflowers.

Had dinner with the lovely Krista, former student now instructor. She was our star student, and now occupies what used to be my office at IWU.

All week long the kitchen counter has been extremely cluttered, mostly with pottery related stuff. Friend Gina, apprentice potteress, came today bringing her latest creations for the weekend firing. I decided to memorialize the clutter with a photo before the weekly clearing and cleaning.

A fun opportunity is coming up in September, the Art Walk in Muncie. I encouraged Mike et al to display some of their clay creations, and he signed up! He is getting quite excited, throwing more pots, firing the kiln every weekend, studying techniques, experimenting with different glazes and finishes, and on and on.
What should their name be Klayations or Klaytivities?
I know I'm late again. Hopefully Sara and her friends will still visit me and leave a comment, opinion, vote, idea... How delightful that would be.
And, BTW, hubby Mike has given me permission to give away one of his clay creations. Be on the lookout for a blogaversary giveaway!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Project 365: Week 34

Diane is Mike's little sister, lives in our area, involved in Carey Services. When she wants to get away, she spends a few days with us. This time from Sunday through Thursday.
Retired now, we had more freedom to schedule vacation-type activities.

Monday we went to the Indiana State Fair. She couldn't remember ever having been. I dug out this photo from 50+ years ago where she is with big brother Mike at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Wednesday we went to the Indianapolis Children's Museum where we did silly things like riding the carroussel and admiring ourselves in the crazy mirrors, plus a lot of other more serious fun.

I've never looked so tall!

Friday we visited my parents. Dad is looking some better. His right hand still doesn't cooperate and he is not walking yet. We don't know how much recovery is possible this time. Meanwhile, Mother goes over to be with him ever meal time, and younger brother visits daily.

They were married 67 years ago, August 22, 1942.
A weekend road trip took me to Nashville, TN for the wedding celebration of a former student. Beautiful!
A lovely friend, Nashville native, hosted and accompanied me. It was extra special to share the evening with her. We worked on the same team in Europe over 30 years ago!

It was VERY early this morning and still dark when I left Nashville.
And now it is late, my eyes are closing.
I'll have to visit you all and Sara tomorrow.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Meanwhile: Consider the lilies...

Consider the Lilies

Earlier this summer I was amazed at the lilies of the field, or by the side of the road.

They were sooooo abundant. Or did I not take notice other years?

I found this image on the internet. Isn't it beautiful?

Reminds me of a song by a very special young woman who performed for us at Cornerstone Music Festival, a special concert for our family and friends. I wish I had the lyrics, all about living in harmony with God's creation.

I remember asking afterwards what had inspired that song. She told of how they live way out in the country and she had been admiring the lilies of the field. Then one day they were gone, cut down to 'clean up' the area. It seemed so harsh and unnatural.

Jesus told his followers to consider how the lilies grow (Luke 12:27-28), the fact that they do not worry or work for what they are by nature. If we are God's children, we can trust him to look after us, clothe and feed us. Our security lies in our relationship to Father God who even cares about adorning the lilies that are so shortlived and feeding the birds.

The last station pointed us to the end, the final judgment.

This one speaks to us of this life now, the meanwhile.

In the meantime we are to trust God daily, in everything.

I have tried with each parable to locate the artist. Laura Pfarr is the first one I was able to contact. Here is what she shared about the experience and the scripture.

"As far as comments on the hand and lily, that painting was actually an assignment for my 2D art class. I wanted to contribute art to the pilgrimmage, but did not get to make anything special, so I chose to submit that one. I like very much the picture of God's hands involved in our lives- his humanity and presence symbolized. And I appreciate the verses that encourage us not to worry, that God's hand will care for us even more so than the lilies, which are beautifully clothed. Hmmm, not much more to comment than that on my end!"

She explained further that she was sick at the time which made the assignment that much more difficult, and that though she enjoys art it doesn't flow from her. She would have liked to redo it, but ran out of time.

I appreciate knowing that and thank Laura for inspiring us to try anyway, to participate even when we feel inadequate.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Project 365: Week 33

prothalamion = a song in celebration of marriage

Can you believe it, that was the word of the day on my tear-off word calendar.
The focus of this week was the big wedding!

"February 8, 2008, Chinese New Year
Chris @ Soup House, met Rachael!" (Quote from my diary)

Christiaan, from South Africa, was traveling with our long-time friends who live and minister in India, the Eichers. They were with us three days. In that brief window of time, he met and was smitten by 'the beautiful one', Rachael, who had lived in Cambodia with her missionary family.
No matter how hard he tried to put her out of his mind, it was impossible. He began to feel God nudging him to write and express his desire to get to know her.
We had encouraged him and welcomed him back should a courtship time commence.
So, he lived with us for a couple of months and we watched their friendship blossom and have followed their love story through all the challenges facing a two-nationality relationship.

Monday, we were so privileged to meet Chris' mother and stepfather, the only ones who were able to come from South Africa for the big event. Such beautiful people!

Our family was involved in food-related ways: Chef-son catered the wedding reception, and we hosted the post-wedding braai.

All week long I was deep-cleaning the kitchen and Mike was working on the yard.
However, we found time for our ongoing hobbies and personal goals along the way.
His passion for pottery involves many, I mean MANY, different steps and processes. This week's experiment was raku firing and decorating with horsehair.

Upendra, from India, another friend of the Eichers, is staying with us for a few weeks. We were all observing the fascinating process.

The piece must reach an insanely high temperature and then within a 30" window you draw on it using horsehair.
This piece was my favorite, but here it has not yet been polished.

My experiment of the week was to make a slide show of the wedding and the braai.

Here are two representative photos: Stephan's ice sculpture for the occasion, and a panoramic (stitched-together) view of the braai area.

We all agreed that the weekend was like "a little piece of heaven," such was the joy and celebration!
I learned another word today: eipthalamion = a song in celebration of marriage, after the event! Our hearts are singing indeed!

Friday, August 14, 2009

One Hand or Another

One Hand Or Another
Matthew 25:31-45

This piece could also be titled THE END, as the context is the final judgment where all the nations are gathered before the heavenly throne of the Son of Man, the King, surrounded by all his angels.
That is when and where the separating takes place, some to the right, others to the left. Sheep to the right, goats to the left.
The criteria that determined eternal blessedness and kingdom inheritance: "whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine." How we treat Christ's representatives on earth. Do we respond to their needs when we see them hungry, thirsty, in need of clothing, sick, strangers or in prison.
The artist has very aptly portrayed the water offered freely or kept to oneself.
After looking into this passage I have more questions than answers, so do the commentators.
Who are these brothers of Christ? Some say the Jewish nation. Others say the messengers of the Gospel. The literal interpretation would be any fellow human in need.
As I am not a Bible scholar, all I can do is pray for a generous heart and open eyes to the needs of those around me.
About the art and artist:
I appreciate the use of rustic materials available.
I only wish I could remember more of what our guide explained. Something about wherever there is red in religious paintings it means...?
The fingers seen through the glass and water are magnified. (I'm sure there is another artist' term for the altered dimensions.)
Janet Cameron, if she is the same one I found online, has a preference for sheep.
That is all I have to contribute. What do you have to say?
One more thought. I wondered whether the sequencing of the parables in the Art Pilgrimage was meaningful or merely practical. Why talk about the END so close to the beginning? Perhaps knowing how we will be judged shows us how we ought to live our lives now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

BICS, CALP, and sex

Today, teacher-friends, grandkids et al, went back to school. Not I.
That set me to remembering my last year in the schools.
It was a new area for me. Instead of teaching Spanish to English speakers, I was helping students from two-language homes become proficient in the English language.
Everything I was dealing with was new: the age group, the academic level, the subject matter, the school system, on and on. By the time I quit, I felt I had figured out what I was doing.
One of the first things that threw me was the unending list of acronyms. I will share the two that most directly explain what we were up against as we worked with bi-cultural kids or TCKs (Third Culture Kids).

Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills is the social dimension of language that demonstrates a student's ability to converse with teachers, peers, and others. It is a very concrete aspect of language and takes less than three years to demonstrate near-native-like proficiency with BICS (Cummins, 1981).

Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency is the more abstract dimension of language that includes being able to read, write, and perform within a content-area classroom at grade level. CALP takes from 5 - 12 years to develop depending on a multitude of variables for each ESL student (Cummins, 1981).

BICS explained how my star pupils could seemingly get by, communicate with their classmates and friends totally in English, appear to be comprehending everything when they had only been in the country three years!

And CALP accounted for test anxiety, low ISTEPs, reading books below grade level and still requiring, even demanding help and tutoring in various content areas.
Being highly motivated overachievers, they managed to attain a 4.0 average!

They were a delight to work with AND drove me crazy at times.
I have many memories of our times together. Here's one that stands out.

One of the brothers showed me the crossword he was working on for science for the chapter on reproduction. He pointed to one word and whispered something about the 'bad word' they were being taught--sperm. Hmmmmm...

"That's not a bad word," I said, "if it weren't for that you would not be here."
Then ensued a series of questions about the reproduction process. Whew!!! I thought I was there to help with their English & cultural gaps! Their curiosity was so genuine. I found it hard to believe their lack of information.
I managed a 'clean' explanation PLUS a very strong exhortation to keep sex sacred--right time, place, person, etc. I cited the sad examples in the same school, very young girls suffering the consequences of careless behavior and ended with, "Don't you ever do that!"

That same day I stopped and talked to their mother, begging her to talk to her boys about these matters. She acknowledged her failure and how difficult it is for her.

I still visit that family. We have a special bond. Last time they wanted to know how to explain the word "snack" among others. Cognitive and cultural gaps are very real, though not always outwardly apparent.

And I wonder...who is there for them this year?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Project 365: Week 32


My focus this week has been to determine and begin to establish routines for life in retirement. Hopefully these daily photos reflect some of the priorities I have chosen.

Physical exercise is one. To begin with, nice and easy (then why are my muscles complaining?), this daily program which claims to "relieve the miseries of menopause naturally."

Spiritul and intellectual exercise

The work area where I spend a goodly chunk of every day, represents numerous endeavors:
communication with family and friends; learning and writing opportunities; photo processing.
In my happy little corner you can see the computer Mike provided for me as well as his photo;
a study book about the parables (check out previous posts and join the fun!); my daily To Do lists right under my nose; and more (usually way messier than I like).

Family fellowship

We are fortunate to have our children and grandchildren all within a 30 mile radius so we get together often. Wednesday was DIL Karen's birthday. After a long fun day of fishing with Stephan, we surprised her with a favorite taco and peach pie meal and, of course, the crazy Koch-song.

Friends are a very precious part of our lives. I am not sure whether there are friendship routines to be added, except to enjoy one another at every opportunity.

Thursday we were blessed by the visit of friends from long ago, maybe 20 years since we last met.

Nocha had prayed for me since childhood. She chose me from among the missionary kids names, we are only two days apart in age. I met her when I went to college. Then our own missionary paths crossed in Mexico, Europe, and the ship Doulos. There she met and married Dallas. They have twin boys, grown now.

This is one of Dallas' paintings, titled Las comadres, and it speaks to me of the variety of friends I am blessed with.

Daughterly duties

Again there is no routine. Visits have become more frequent as Dad's health is failing. I am so blessed to live not so far away and to have the freedom to be involved in their lives.

Dad had two episodes this week similar to what happened end of January, his right side not cooperating. On Thursday he was hospitalized.

I visited on Friday.

You may wonder what the following photo has to do with that. I just have to chuckle every time I see that our photo has replaced George & Laura Bush's in a prominent spot in my parent's home.

Home and Garden

Every day I try to do a cleaning/sorting/fixing task around the house.

And, at least once a week, spend a longer time in the garden. The impatiens have taken off this year like I've never seen before, in my gardening experience anyway. However, only in that one area. In another part, they refuse to even stay alive! What's up with that?

Finally, I just have to add a Meemaw Moment: "Watch this, Grandma!"
(Multiply that by at least a dozen, until his tricks became too daring and he suffered a fall.)

See y'all next week at Sara's place, if not sooner at my place! I love visitors!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Project 365: Week 31

Weekly meal for whosoever-will at Chef-son's: an action photo

Menu: eggplant parmegiana, a variety of green salads, homemade potato crisps, and lemonade + stimulating conversations + much laughter.

Couple on left will wed in less than two weeks! Stay tuned for more about their love story.

Oops, no photos. I spent most of the day translating the dress code policy for the Marion schools, actually their new 'uniform' description, a very technical task. I had to refer constantly to the forums online-- for the best descriptive words for the various items.

After my regular every 6 or 7 week hair appointment, I drove on up to visit a while with mother on her 88th birthday. I took a couple pair of more supportive shoes for her to try on. The shoe store salesman (owner, manager?) let me take them "on approval" basis. One of them was a perfect fit, and the other pair a tad short, but the next size is on order.

While I was there, dear Argentine friends, now settled in the US and co-pastoring a Spanish-speaking congregation, arrived with a beautiful mouth-watering cake. My mother said, "Dory never forgets!"

Dortha Mae Dowdy, died July 22 at age 97 and was buried today next to her late husband.

They were my parents mentor-missionaries those early years in Argentina.

I gathered all the photos I could come across, scanned them and sent them out to those who would remember. Here is my missionary 'aunt' holding me at summer church camp by the kitchen tent next to our well-loved cook, doña Elena.

We set out very early (for retirees and pre-adolescent grandsons) for the first day of IRI--the Indiana Robotics Invitational. As mentor to team 1720, Mike had to be there way before the first match. I had over two hours to wait, so I found a place to sit and read!

This is a photo to represent my experience: the concession stand, the Argentine flag right above it, and our team 1720 coordinator buying breakfast.

The grandkids kept checking in with me to show me their finds under the bleachers. One time I asked them what country the flag belonged to and gave them the first letter as a clue. They spouted off many names which revealed their ignorance of geography and of me! I determined to teach them more about my history and world facts. We started with a hangman game to come up with the name of my 'other' patria.

In the afternoon, I took off for a couple hours to have dinner with my uncle and aunt who live in that area.

Uncle Bud had just celebrated his 85th birthday the day before. Here he is enjoying the Hoyt family album I had put together for my parents. It has a section for each of the ten brothers and their families. He is the youngest and can still recall many interesting facts and anecdotes.

Second day of competition. No way can I do justice, either photographically or in words, to the total experience, so check out the link to the blog. Besides, I wasn't even there! I had a Reality Language conference to attend all day. Check it out as well. I think you will be VERY impressed with the system. I feel very privileged to be a part of this new and growing program. I am now a certified Reality Spanish trainer for Teachers and Health Care Professionals. All I need is students! Being the only one in Grant County means I may have to do a lot of ground work to create those teaching opportunities.

No photos on this day either. So I will leave you with the completed puzzle we worked on with Amaia. It remains on our coffee table as a reminder of good times.

I echo what someone else in Sara's circle said, "Don't know what we'll do after Project 365 is over." It's become a wonderful discipline and valuable record of this year 2009.