Sunday, August 28, 2011

Progress Report

I decided to make time every Sunday to play the organ inherited from my parents' vacated home, which son Stephan kindly delivered here a week ago. It may end up replacing the keyboard lost in the house fire.

It was very enjoyable, although I have a lot to relearn--how to use all the stops and dance on the pedals.

Monday, August 22nd--Mother and Dad's 69th anniversary
My plan was to include the letters written seventy (yes, 70) years ago between Dad and Grandpa Hirschy--the requesting and granting of permission to marry as well as some other very interesting details about Mother and Dad's courtship. However, I have momentarily misplaced those letters. Instead here is my most recent photo of Dad and again one of Mother reading her own letters written during that period of her life.

Thank you for your faithfulness and love over the many years!

Our post-colonoscopy Red Lobster mid-afternoon meal and a shared strawberry shortcake supper, a delicious celebration after a day and a half on liquids only.

Baked Seafood

Strawberry Shortcake from Ivanhoes
Mike goes out to survey the building progress several times a day and has spent countless hours splitting logs from the large oak tree. I go and walk through as often as possible. It is fun to imagine each room as they begin to take shape.  Back at our temporary residence the restoration and replacement process continues steadily.

At a flea market, I found a telephone (or gossip) bench  to replace the one that worked so well in our entry way.

Did you know that was what they were called? I could NOT google this antique until someone told me the name.

These are views of the house by the end of the work week.

Front Entry View
North Side View

Saturday was very much like a vacation day. We were invited to take part in a bike ride with a group of Taylor students as part of their leadership training. Mike went along last year as the bike mechanic. This time we came along on our tandem. Friend Dane helped check and adjust bikes before the ride.

The Bike Doctors--Mike (foreground), Dane (background)

Words of advice from the expert

The Happy Cyclists

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The A, B, C's of Week 34

A Happenin' Week

Biked to breakfast twice.

Beautiful sunrise en route to McD's in Hartford City

Genius, Purty Smart, or Just Plain Dumb?

These two photos reminded me that we began tandeming ten years ago. That year we attended the Midwest Tandem Rally in Duluth, Minnesota, and also rode in the infamous  famous Hilly Hundred. Back then we bought the event jerseys because we needed them. Now I must replace some, either lost in the fire or outgrown.

Boxes and boxes of restored items were returned this week. More stuff to go through.

Boxes of Klaytivity ceramics
Mike is happy to have his pottery pieces back so he can sell at the Covered Bridge Festival again this year.

Best of all--the bid for the house was approved!

Car--Kayla and I went up to my brother Alan's shop, Global Auto, on Monday for a complete check and repair of her newly acquired vehicle. We left it there and returned Friday to pick it up.

Ready for college!
Deck--another efficient Amish crew finished the deck, after the foundation had been power washed and the lower level framing painted to seal the wood and avoid permeating odors.

Diane (Mike's younger sister) is checking out the 'house' for the first time since the house fire in June.

Egg Art--Kayla and I waited at Grandma Hoyt's new place, while her car was being diagnosed, and met one of her neighbors--Emma Fretz, the egg artist. She recently received an award from the guild for her contribution to the art of eggery. She has made more than 9,000 in her lifetime and at 85 continues to teach the craft even though she can no longer see well enough to make her own.

Daniel in the lion's den (in ostrich egg)
Friends--We are so happy that Mother has such great neighbors. 'Aunt' Margaret (as we lovingly called her from the time we were little and living next door to fellow missionaries, the Marshalls) is across the hall from Mother's apartment.

'Aunt' Margaret and Mother
Grandchildren, gifts from God--Three of them started back to school this week. We enjoyed the two younger ones overnight and kept so busy I forgot to take pictures until they were ready to leave.

Kayla, Diane and I went to the State Fair. Kayla was especially happy to find the perfect purchase--a HAT, of course!

She moves this weekend and begins her college career on Monday!

I could probably complete the entire alphabet naming the blessings, and busyness, of this week.
So as not to bore you, I will stop here and go over to Sara to link up with the friends there.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Two Months Later...

This week marked two months since the house fire. The rebuilding began and the block walls are up...


...despite having to dig out one wall because the crack was growing, a major undertaking. However the wall you see here is the new one.

The Amish block layers are very fast and efficient. Next week the framing crew begins.

In our current abode the restoration and replacement duties are ongoing.

I remember the first night we were here I made sure all the counters were uncluttered and clean before going to bed. Not anymore. There are items to be cleaned on one side of the sink. I try to carry down a load from the ozone room every day, or bring in an armful from the garage every time I go out there. On the other counter are piles of letters, photos, and files that I am sorting and organizing. Then there's one end of the dining room table where more such activities take place. I am very grateful for all these spaces to work on not only the things we salvaged from the house, but also all that my brother brought from my parent's home when they moved Mother into Grace Village. My goal is to have all these resources ready, organized and filed by the time we move into our rebuilt home and I have my new and fully equipped writing center!

My grandfather, and my father also, saved every piece of correspondence with each of the children over the years. These many files have been passed down and now I have become the family archivist.
I visited my mother this week and took along one of the unopened packets from the archives--the letters she wrote home when she was in college! We read them together. It was so much fun, we laughed a lot. For me it was interesting to get to know Mother in new ways.

She did not remember much and could not recognize herself, the Kathryn of 70 years ago. We kept reading about her driving someone's car and running errands. She couldn't believe it and kept saying things like, "She's driving...There she goes again!" To which I responded, "Mother, that was you!"
In many ways she was like college students nowadays, very busy, many activities, work and studies. Also in love, became engaged, not happy with her grades compared to those of her friends. One thing that was very different--quiet hours began at 8:30 pm!

I chose to go up Tuesday in order to coincide with the visit of an old OM friend from 40+ years ago who was visiting her uncle in the same Health Center where Dad is. She is a talented musician, carries her own keyboard and sings in nursing homes. Most of our visit was spent singing together. We enjoyed that so much and the residents begged for more.

A few other activities of the week:

We celebrated Karen's 36th birthday at Monday Dinner, in our own crazy creative Koch way...

...with unique and practical gifts.

While there I peeked into Kayla's new room.

Mike had no students show up at the Red Barn on Tuesday, but they made up for it on Wednesday.

Tomorrow classes begin in our area schools, so the Pottery studio will go back to a regular schedule (MWF).

Thursday morning we went on a tandem date to McDonald's for breakfast, 18 miles the long way.

Saturday we went our separate ways for an extra effort exercise adventure: Mike rode 70 miles with his cycling club; and I ran another 5K at the Popcorn Festival.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Muck, Memories and More

A friend quoted from an article: "where there's muck, there's memory." The article had to do with discoveries from an archeological dig. Our muck may not date back hundreds of years, but has brought back many memories nonetheless.

When we go out to feed the cat, water the garden, and pick up the mail, it feels like we're visiting a graveyard.

Brutus hears us coming and runs out of his temporary home in the pole barn and rolls over to be petted, then purrs contentedly.

Mike is leaning over the deck to water the garden below. I harvested a dozen tomatoes yesterday and a handful of basil.
Occasionally we discover in the muck another item to salvage or let go.

Back at our fancy refugee pad, I spend hours cleaning and restoring a variety of items. These are my favorite tools.

And Mike spends endless hours working on the loss and replacement spreadsheet.
However, this week he also went to the insurance people to threaten them find out what was taking so long. Now things are moving and we were finally able to sign a contract with the builder. He is ready to begin reconstruction on Monday.

We did try out our new tandem one morning and enjoyed the 15 mile ride very much. But I only remembered to take a picture when Mike was putting it away.

The garage is half full of more items to restore or throw away. And there is a whole ozoned room upstairs of  stuff to be gone through. I have been cleaning the rescued photo albums, so full of memories! Also, for variety, I have been going through packets of letters my brother retrieved from Dad's office. Oh, my, oh my! Did I really write that many letters over the years? What a wealth of family history! Thank you, Dad, for filing every piece so carefully.

Midst the reminiscences and reflections, life in the present goes on.
Saturday we bought a used car that will replace mine.

Sunday, Kayla and I drove Skye to Miracle Camp.

From the photos on the web site, I gather he had a  great time. Malachi goes tomorrow.

Wednesday, after my hair appointment, SIL Diane and I went out to lunch. 

Chalupa lunch
Two afternoons Mike teaches ceramics at the Red Barn. This talented senior will soon be leaving for college.

Today, Saturday, Mike biked with his cycling club again after a long time absent.
And I ran a 5K with DIL Kristie. We both did better than we expected and won our age divisions. Kristie was also the second overall female runner. She still has the gift!

We chose to run as an act of solidarity with her father, my consuegro, on the anniversary of his fateful day and praying especially for him as this summer has been extremely trying. (To read about him and hear his story, go to

This is my weekly attempt to participate in Project 365. We aim to take a photo a day, some for love of photography, others to keep a record of our daily lives.  Sara at is our hostess, where we link up and try to visit one another's blogs. I failed miserably at that this week and have had a hard time even writing this post. I try not to miss because I know I can hardly remember what happens from one day to the next. So, here goes, this is Week 32.