Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

Tonight we prepare to welcome the New Year, same way as last year with the Muncie robotics team as they drop the ball! I will try to get photos again for our 2010 Project 365!
If you live in the area, join us tonight for family fun!
And anyone on the fence about participating in Project 365, for goodness sake, get your act together and join us! You'll never regret it!

A lot of reflection going on around this time and goal-setting which will be followed by an attempt at goal-keeping!

Some time in the next few days, I aim to put some of mine out there for your reaction and mostly a sense of accountability.

For now, I wish for you GOD's blessing in 2010, realizing that does not mean absence of hardship.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


CHRISTmas! Christ and More (más means 'more' in Spanish)

We are truly rejoicing! The miracle of Christmas is Christ WITH us!

We felt that joy as we gathered yesterday, the 26th.
For quite some time we communicated back and forth about simplifying Christmas.
How can you simplify something so grand?!
Instead we s.t.r.e.t.c.h.e.d it out. We allowed a day in between and still kept two favorite family traditions:
  • Christmas Eve--shrimp, artichokes and one gift; 
  • Family Christmas--brunch, story, gifts, dinner.

Our family unit--Mike, sister Diane, and I--added one special event this year. We attended the second-annual-Monday-Night-Meal-crowd-Christmas-Eve brunch at Chef-son's.
This sign welcomed us (the DIL likes mooses and can do a great moose impression).

Handcrafted gifts were big this year. All the 'santas' worked long and hard. Sample photos follow.

I promised to show you what was in the little bag, one sock per week. Total completed: six. So, two of the ladies received one sock and a promise.

Chef-son and Karen show off their Klaytivity gifts: a soup tureen; a large bowl; two pizza stones; and a butter-bell.
Each family received a butter-bell and other unique thrown pottery. I really like our butter-bell!

BTW, notice the DIL's lovely new haircut, yet another activity included in our extended time together--the DILs work together to save money.


Sam made us a gift out of wood from the old barn--a stunning framed photo of his sons. 

'Santa' baby was passed around, still the center of attention, and Auntie Leah cannot get enough of him.

 The daughter was in charge of the Christmas meal, and we already voted her in for next year!
 While dinner was cooking, most of the others went out to try their hand at archery (or should I say 'try their arms'?) Mike has been trying all week. Last Sunday afternoon I looked out the kitchen window and he was standing there so still waiting for the right moment to aim at some deer walking by. Unfortunately, no luck yet.

Today, we were busy watching the Colts' game. Several family members were gifted fan attire. Even the baby now has a shirt and socks, his brothers got new wool hats, Skye was wearing his Peyton Manning jersey and the women their Colts' necklaces.


It is snowing and so beautiful. All is quiet now and I can blog--the last post for Project 365! 

Friday, December 25, 2009

¡Adiós, Juan!

Today we celebrate the coming of our Lord to dwell among us.
This year we say goodbye to a good friend who went to be with Jesus last night after six months of suffering a very aggressive form of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Juan was an amazing artist. We own two of his paintings: the one in the photo "El Gran Violinista: Jehudi Menuhim" which he gave me when I visited two years ago; and one that I purchased and gave myself for my birthday some years back, titled "Arroyo Toledo". It reminded me of summer camp in the sierras of Córdoba. You can view it and others on Juan Colle's website.
I was so privileged to visit with them relatively recently, considering how far away Argentina is and also the fact that I had not seen them in decades. I still have an image in my mind of looking out the window and seeing him waiting for me at the huge bus terminal in Córdoba. I wasn't sure I would recognize him after so many years.

Here Mirta, his wife, is showing me what's left of their china, so treasured because it was a wedding gift from missionary friends, the Marshalls, so long ago.

Juan was a pastor, evangelist, and a disciplined pray-er. Each time we met or talked he mentioned that every Saturday he prayed for all of us his friends in the USA. We will miss him.

On this Christmas day, I think especially of Juan's family--his loving widow, the three grown children, their spouses, and the grandchild on the way. I also remember a promise I made and have not kept. Juan gave me an essay he wrote, "Una visión cristiana del arte" (A Christian Perspective on Art), and asked for my feedback. Instead, I will try to post my comments here in the near future. (Keep me accountable, please!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Memory Monday : Hoyt Stories

Top Row: Garner (1916), Rex (1911), Clarence Lyman (1884-1968), Herman (1909), Lowell (1919), Solon (1921)
Bottom Row: Gladys (1916), Thelma (1912), Eldon (1924), Anna Leola Dorsey (1884-1957), Arlene (1914), Charlotte (1923)

A few weeks back I started out on a quest to learn more about my paternal grandfather. I wrote about my initial findings in this Memory Monday post. I realize now, regretfully, that I am years too late. A word of advice to all: do not let family stories slip through your grasp, grab them, write them down, record them ASAP!

I learned of cousin-in-law Margery Gehman's interest in family history and geneology, so I contacted her through Facebook. This was her contribution:

"Jim says his mother said he was an alcoholic. We don't know if this is true or not. His mother never talked about it. Perhaps, Uncle Bud or your dad would know more. I once heard Uncle Herman and some of the siblings talk about not owing their Dad anything. They did not seem to have much respect for him. It must have been a sad situation."

A visit to Uncle Bud had already been arranged, so Saturday afternoon we drove to Noblesville and had a wonderful time with Uncle Bud and Aunt Doris. The meal was delicious and served so beautifully. And the stories were unending.

As a novice interviewer, I failed to remember my little tape recorder which still sits here on my desk. I was ever so sorry. What a treasure it would have been to have these family tales and details registered in Bud's own voice which, now in his mid eighties, is faltering at times. I will, nevertheless, attempt to recreate from my notes some of what the youngest Hoyt sibling remembers.

Eldon, nicknamed Bud, was only ten or twelve when his father left home, too young to really understand the family dynamics at the time. He recalls images, anecdotes, and snippets that add to our portrait and may trigger more memories as others join in this quest.

As young as he was, he came away with the impression that the issue that finally led to divorce was that he liked women. "I know that. Mother used to say 'I love him from the waist up and not from the waist down'... although I can't imagine her saying that."

"I can see us all around the big table, not much food. My father would say a prayer, always the same one."
Life was difficult, but they pulled together to keep food on the table.
Herman, the oldest sibling, is credited for supporting the family, working hard and rallying the others to contribute what they could to the pool.

When they lived in Ohio, Bud and Sam (my father) had four paper routes, a couple starting at 5 a.m. and then some in the evening:
"The Cleveland Plain Dealer; The Akron Beacon Journal; The Mansfield Journal...there were a lot of towns and papers in that area."
"Did you deliver papers on bike or on foot?" I asked.
Bud said, "I rode a bike. I bought my very first bike for $10 and worked on it, fixed it up...used it for the paper routes."  Then added, "Garner peddled [sold] cottage cheese. I remember he made enough to buy a leather jacket...he was proud of that jacket."
"Lowell always had a hankering for anything electrical. He ran an aerial from the steeple all the way back several houses to a telephone pole." This was the house on Evergreen St. in Ashland, the one with many gables. Lowell built his ham radio station in the 6 by 6 foot tower, with crystal sets.
"Lowell was good at building kites. He make a big box kite that became a great attraction."

"What about the girls?" I asked.
"They helped Mother with the younger children. She would say, 'Arlene, you're in charge of these two. And, Thelma, you take the other two.' "
"Thelma carried that on the rest of her life," he added. "She had six children."
Aunt Doris commented, "Thelma was a great cook and she could cook for crowds."

In that same neighborhood, "down in the gully", the fifty or so neighborhood kids played and fought together.
Uncle Bud said, "I've never known such a close-knit community. We had gang fights and had so much fun, especially at Halloween. We operated a Haunted House, and everyone came through. Garner and Gladys [twins], Lowell and Sam ran the whole operation." Or was it a business? I wonder.
From the way he talked, I understood that those gang wars were only fun and games. One weapon mentioned was a type of weed they could uproot and use as a spear. In fact, on one occasion my father succeeded in spearing a member of the 'enemy' gang through the cheek.
"Bus [Garner's nickname] and Sam collected old wood, cleaned it up, took the nails out, and built a shack."
In my mind, I see my Dad and realize that his love for building and knack for making things out of whatever is available, continued all his life.
Was that shed the Haunted House? I wonder. I may have to make another trip to Noblesville to ask more questions, and record the answers this time!

In winter, the icy steep incline on the other side of the gully was perfect for sliding down on pieces of cardboard.

Bud was always sorely tempted to play down in the gully and would often get in trouble. He'd play hooky or escape through the gable window onto the roof, down the spout to the cherry tree and run! The four trees provided wonderful treats, some dark cherries and sweet yellow ones as well. But the escapades got him in trouble more than once.
"I felt like I was always in trouble. Once when I played hooky, Mother didn't know what to do with me, so when my father came home, I remember it was late; she told him what had happened and he whipped me mercilessly with a leather strap."
"Herm was strong that way, too. His way was always right and he would not listen to anything you might have to say." Bud recalls his earlier childhood."I remember back in Dallas Center [Iowa], he always protected me."

"So, why did you all move to Ohio?" I ask.

"Herm got work and wanted to go to college there." In Iowa he drove  trucks for Chataqua; in Ohio he worked for Faultless Rubber Company.
The family had always attended the Brethren Church, that is why Herman decided to attend the Brethren college in Ashland, Ohio.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Project 365: Week 51

Tis the season...

  • to decorate, and clean!
    This year I am decorating slowly, thoughtfully, enjoying the process. When I get an idea that's when it gets done.
    I decided to not clutter the tree, so all white, silver/gold, shiny, clear ornaments are on the 'front', and all the colorful ones are on the 'back', seen from the outside looking in the windows.
    I have also been cleaning as I go (spring cleaning in December!) One accomplishment I am so proud of--I washed and starched the European-style valances my mother crocheted for our kitchen years ago, AND cleaned the windows before hanging them back up!

  • to send greetings, and receive!
    These come and go by e-mail and  snail mail, Facebook, phone, F2F and through blogging.
    I love hearing from friends and family all over the world, and sharing our news. I've always wanted to have a year-end letter ready by the time Christmas cards and letters started rolling in. This year I came close.
    Here is one of my favorite cards received. Our dear friend who just started 'pottering' this summer (see her here) made beautiful candle holders and carved the Nativity scene on one side and the name Emmanuel on the other side so that the reflection was readable above the manger scene. Those are her children in the photo.

  • to gather, and say goodbye!
    We continue to enjoy Monday Night Meal at Chef-son's. This week our college-girl-boarder and friend (my first cousin twice removed) were able  to go with us as their finals were over for the day.

    Then Wednesday, our girl Jessica left for home and for Indonesia the next day to visit her father's people. She got to choose her Klaytivity gift.

  • to sing, and gaze with wonder!
    Thursday was Elijah's pre-school program (third from the right).
    And we all took turns gazing at our new  baby.

  • to admire the snowscape, and drive in it!
    View from kitchen window Saturday a.m.

  • to visit and share
    We drove an hour Saturday afternoon to visit my  uncle and aunt. Both are very good at their crafts: he is a fine carpenter, and she loves to paint. Here is her most recent project, all symbols of Indianapolis.

And, we keep on keeping on, Mike setting up his pottery studio, among other things, and I with writing assignments, among other things.
Let's see what activities occupy the others in this special season, among other things. Go to Sara's.

A blessed Christmas to each and all!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Memory Monday: Year End Letter

The OLD and the NEW

As we move into a new year we look back at the past--2009.

We, Mike and Rita, left the working world and took up the flexible life-style of retirees.
We have been very intent on finding our way in this new life.

Old gifts are being put to good use:

Mike’s God-given talent to design and create has led to new pursuits:
  • Ministry opportunities with Lightrider: 
    • assisting with CAD drawings for the design of a new bus accessible to the elderly 
    • designs for possible uses of an addition to the Red Barn 
  • Creativity expressed through clay--Klaytivity: Unique Thrown Pottery
Previous involvements with the Muncie robotics team continue. Coming up:                                              
  • New Year’s Eve ball drop 
  • 2010 FIRST build season and competitions
Ongoing fitness habits, like bicycling, enabled him to do the RAIN in July (160 mi. ride across Indiana), and got him an invite to participate in the Quebrantahuesos (Bonebreaker!) in Spain. Monday the 14th, names will be drawn from the thousands of applicants. He is registered in a group of six. We understand that if any one of their names is drawn, all get to ride. Stay tuned, we may be going to visit our Basque teen and family next spring!

Amaia, from Hondarribía in the Basque Country, Spain, was with us for a month in the summer, our granddaughter Kayla as well. It was a wonderful experience.

Rita continues to blog and is taking an online writing course.

Stephan’s ice carving business, the Indiana Ice Studio, is growing steadily.
Karen assists him and also works as administrative coordinator at a pain clinic in Muncie.
In her spare time she blogs at SmallTownRunner.
They continue to host a Monday night community dinner in their Yorktown home.

We were remembering the name Leah’s birth mother gave her—Manuela—and thinking of its beautiful meaning—God is with us!  Such a comforting thought in troubled times. Motherly worries are ongoing as children grow and circumstances change. Skye is 12 and Kayla 18!
Jimmy is always busy in his heating and cooling business--Air Your Way.

Sam has constant jobs in construction and carpentry-related work and in his spare time he reinstalled the enormous Life Skateboards bowl in a warehouse in downtown Muncie.
Kristie was granted a full-time student scholarship to finish her undergraduate degree in psychology. She graduates in May.
They gave us a new grandson, November 23rd--Zion Promise!
Of course, Malachi (11) and Elijah (5 in Jan.) continue to grow, change, and learn.

All five grandchildren bring us much delight.      

Travel Opportunities in 2009:
  • During spring break, Rita and Kayla went on a road trip to North Carolina to visit Lorrie, a friend from seminary and OM days almost 40 years ago! 
  • In May, dear family friend, Randy McMullin in Wisconsin, joined his wife in Heaven. Mike and Rita attended the wonderful memorial service. 
  • Rita was a reader for Advanced Placement Spanish exams held in Cincinnati, OH, a week in June. 
  • Most of our family, along with several friends, attended Cornerstone Festival, in Bushnell, IL. 
  • Rita drove to Nashville, TN, in August, to the marriage celebration of a former student. 
  • And traveled by train to Chicago, IL, in September to help cousin Rosie in her first week after heart surgery. 
  • Mike and Rita spent two+ weeks in Pocatello, ID, for the annual Koch-brothers-and-nephew October hunt. Totals for this year: 200 ducks, 18 pheasants, 8 sharp-tail grouse...and a broken down car! Our return trip was delayed five days!
The story of Christmas never grows old.
The wonder of God with us takes on new meaning every year.
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Project 365: Week 50

Fifty! Five O! Only two more weeks to go before Twenty Ten, 2010!

And less than two weeks till Christmas!

The Star lights went up last Sunday.

Monday it snowed. Time to hang the snowmen wreath.

Mary and Joseph await on the porch.

The photo cards arrived Wednesday!

And Kayla had her Christmas Open House at the dance studio.

The Christmas tree went up Thursday plus lights and dove ornaments.

Decorating this year is a slow process. Time to get out the various Nativities. This one is the most child-friendly, or should I say child proof--unbreakable. But I do remember pieces went missing some years.

The potter has been hard at work setting up his studio in the downstairs solarium. He is loving having everything in one place, no more running up and down the stairs. And I am glad the kitchen counter is no longer covered with clay or tools. No studio photos yet.

Today, Saturday, DIL and I ran/jogged a 5K WinteRun. We had good weather, sunshine! No ice like last year, but many branches and twigs strewn on the path by the very strong winds we had midweek.
I can't believe I have no photos of us.

Finally, a lovely evening with friends.

Oh! I was awarded the Circle of Friends button this week!
If Sara's Circle disbands in two weeks, I will miss those weekly visits.
But now I will make the most of what time we have left. Let's check in with Sara, our wonderful hostess.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Circle of Friends Award!

I was officially inducted into the august Circle of Friends by my DIL, who was awarded by my SIL, who in turn was recognized by another blogger in this cyberspace community of 'friends'. I have truly enjoyed the 'virtual' fellowship blogging affords. I look forward to checking new posts every day, and also noticing who has visited my blog that day. All that to say that I am grateful for my circle of friends.

Like most privileges, this one comes with a responsibility as well. The rules for this award:
--list five things I like
--pass the award on to five friends

For the first part, I chose to limit my likes to the Christmas category, and keep in mind that these are things, not action verbs, feelings, abstract concepts. So, here goes:

1. The star-shaped lights husband puts up every year, sometimes later than I or he would like, whenever he can get around to it after all the more pressing issues or emergencies are taken care of, and most often when the weather has turned super cold (for that he is my hero!).
This two-story tall star can be seen from the road, through the woods, and like the Star of Bethlehem, announces the reason why we celebrate CHRISTmas.

2. The various Nativities we have collected over the years: large, small, even tiny, fancy or plain, rubber or clay. A most meaningful one stands by our front door. Mary and Joseph are simply dressed tomato cages with styrofoam heads and hands, and the babe in the manger is a wrapped tomato juice can. It perfectly suits our porch, but more importantly it will always remind me of the special friends that made the set for us. Steve is in heaven already, he made the wooden manger. And Viola sits in bed or in her wheel chair keeping at her many crafts, and hoping someone will drop by for a visit.

3. The dove ornaments. The tree went up yesterday, and Mike strung the lights. I found a dozen new dove ornaments purchased at after-Christmas discounts and then forgotten. They are so pretty. I haven't gotten out all the other decorations yet, but among them are a variety of doves. They speak to me of the Holy Spirit.

4. The Home for the Holidays wooden sign. I hang it out front for when the family gathers for our together-Christmas. I loved it when the kids came back and were able to stay overnight or several days. As we age and the family grows this becomes more difficult, but still the time we do have will be precious.

5. The Christmas carols. I have tried over the years to play all the carols in the hymnbook at least once during the season. When I didn't have a piano, I was able to go to the nursing home nearby and play theirs during meal times to an appreciative audience. Now, with my own piano, hubby's great gift last year, I kinda wish we'd sing together as a family, but I doubt that could happen. Considering our manner of singing the birthday song, it would not be a very pleasant or melodious experience!

(Come back Sunday to see photos of most if not all of the above in Project 365 post)

And now for the five awardees:

There are three other family members that are in my circle of readers: Lizzie, Kathy, and Lynn.
And I need two more. I will draw from the bloggy-friends that I have never met, but sometimes feel I know because we have participated in Project 365 together and viewed one another's weekly photo-journals for nearly a year now. I choose Edie, who is also a grandmother, and Dena. Both have inspired me.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Project 365: Week 49

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Fifth Sunday, my turn to lead Junior Worship.
I had a wonderful time with the 1st -3rd graders discussing Jesus family tree and God's greatest gift to mankind--the Son of David!

As you know by now, we try to go to the Monday Night Meal as often as we can. The DIL does such a good job describing the food on her blog, so I will focus on other details, such as her own hand-built clay Nativity.

I was inspired enough to hang a couple initial Christmas items on December 1st, each made by a different SIL years ago.

Also every day I have steadily been working on the Christmas gifts, some shopping, ordering online, and the crafted item hidden in this handy little bag (a gift from a friend in Egypt).

Every afternoon, 6th grade grandson comes here after school and, now that football is over, asks to be taken to the Red Barn, an after-school program sponsored by LightRider Ministries.

There is talk of adding a pottery area in the new room to be added on. So Mike was consulted this week and asked to design a layout. The youth pastor's wife is a young mother and into pottery as well. She came over with her little ones on Friday to help with the planning. They loved playing with the cat.

In the evening I got to spend time with two of our own grandkids and see the baby before he went off with Mom and Dad to his first concert!

Saturday started out with a 5K at the local university to raise money for mission trips--the Jingle Bell Jog!

Then a fun time with the daughter, a trip to the Holiday Author Fair at the Indiana Historical Society so she could meet Sherrie Eldridge.

And finally a date with my hubby--a grand Christmas concert at Taylor, music in many languages--excellent!

And now, already Sunday, it's time to go to bed! Later, most likely after an afternoon nap, I will visit you all at Sara's. Have a blessed week!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Follow Up

Sweet Work of Love

Two weeks ago, before baby and Thanksgiving, I posted Jean Lappinga's first entry in The Parables Art Pilgrimage at Cornerstone Festival. And the following Friday my reflection, FWIW. Some of you commented that the reason you do not respond is that you never were good at drawing meaning from art. I had always put myself in that category, which makes this self-imposed exercise a true leap of faith. However, it has been fun to jump into it each time and see what happens.

Sweet Work of Love 

The artist took on two of the Luke 15 trilogy of parables on recovery: the lost sheep, and the lost coin.
I was surprised by the title she gave this piece, then realized how beautifully it speaks of God's Grace, which is what going after the lost ones is all about.

As I read the verse in twenty-eight versions (yes, 28 in all, including English, Spanish and French), the three-step search process became so obvious: turn on the light; clean thoroughly, one version says 'turn the house upside down'; and look carefully, persevering until you find the lost object. And then it hit me that this could describe our year and also be a recipe for the future.

Let me explain, we both retired mid year and have been searching, going after what we had been missing, trying to identify our gifts and dreams, and above all pursue God's purposes for our lives and remaining years.
That requires Light, to really be able to see and understand what that might be. Then comes the cleaning, to align everything in that direction. That is the overwhelming aspect for me, I have so many areas where I need to get my house in order, i.e. get rid of accumulations from my past life and work. I can easily become discouraged.

The woman in the drawing is squatting, getting down to the nitty gritty of the search for something she has lost and values highly. The task is enormous but can only be tackled one section at a time and there is nothing easy or simple about it. I find it interesting that the broken-tile design the artist chose, makes it all the more difficult to detect one lost coin. But the story says that she does not give up till she has found what she is looking for.

All three of the parables end in a joyous celebration. The artist chose to emphasize the process, the search, and leaves out the verse about the party with the neighbors and friends.

The explanatory plaque adds another reference from Proverbs 2:4-5 "and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. about the serious and intentional pursuit of wisdom, insight, understanding."

So, that's where we are: both step by step finding our place in retirement; working at it intently, and enjoying the process!