Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer Joys AND Heat

We are enjoying the season in spite of record temperatures, and very grateful for rain last night! Will it be enough to turn the brown lawns green? Maybe not. Nor will it affect recent bans on burns and fireworks.

Sunday, as planned, Sam and Kristie provided us an excuse for another family gathering.

"It's a boy!"
See the blueberry filling? I don't think Sam's expression means anything. Just caught him rubbing his eye. They had fun revealing confirming to us all what they had long suspected.

Monday is often my big writing day and/or a day to catch up from a busy weekend. It is then especially fun to go to the meal at Chef and Karen's.

The table was laden with wonderful foods from their abundant garden yield: several dishes using greens, even the risotto is green; a mix of root vegetables; and two Alabama specialties.

Please notice the kale crisps on the middle platter and one on my plate. Wonderful! Brush kale with olive oil, season with salt/pepper to taste, and toast/crisp in oven 10 minutes. So thin, crunchy, tasty! The kind you can't stop eating and don't even realize you're getting your fill of greens.

Tuesday, forecast to be the coolest day we'd have all week, Michael tackled the all-day job of spraying sealer on the deck.

Wednesday our Food for Thought ladies Bible study group met for lunch and shared about our summer so far.

In the evening we went to Malachi's last game of the season. I don't know if he was sad that they lost or relieved that it is over.

Thursday was our record hot day, in the triple digits, so we stayed indoors.

How do you like these flowers? Do you recognize what they are?

Friday we met our new greatgranddog, Kayla's Lily.

In the afternoon we tried to support our town's new initiative--a weekly farmer's market including local crafts. So Mike took a few boxes of his pottery creations. We were about to set up when a severe storm blew in suddenly. We had to wait it out in the car for an hour. It cleared up nicely, but not very many customers showed up. We had a great time talking to the other vendors, however.

More storms rolled in through the night. Some friends suffered damaged vehicles and/or homes from the fallen trees.

Today was an exciting day. A group of us, welcomed this summer's three Basque students with a dinner at Dane and Laurie's house. It made us miss our Amaia and those from other years.

 After dinner the young folk had fun playing a Basque card game that they call Scum.

That's our week. The next will be very different as we will be camping in Illinois at the last Cornerstone Music Festival.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Treasures of Life--Friends and Family

Who would have thought that a little blog would lead to such dear people?
Or, who ever knows what For better or for worse will lead to?

Surely you guessed last week that our special overnight guests were Steve, Sara, and Jared Bowyer!

Jared savoring e.v.e.r.y bite of Ivanhoe's shake!
Jared probably enjoyed this mint chocolate chip shake all the way to Anderson University, 40 minutes away!

Shortly after they left the grandchildren arrived. They are the happy part of For better or for worse.
We took them to the county fair.
Elijah fell in love with a particular rabbit, trying to work out how much he would pay for it.

Zion had eyes only for trucks, tractors, golf carts, motorcycles, i.e. anything with wheels! One lady took pity on him and let him drive! (I wonder if he will be a race car driver???)

Monday, the weary boys slept late.

Once Zion was up there was no more quiet. He is so pleased to hear himself talk now that there is no stopping him.

 I heard Hey, Grandma at least 200 times, if not 1,000!

The boys had a blast running through the water spray.

Not fun at all was getting lost in the woods and having to walk a long way back after coming out on the other side of the block. The best picture of the day would have been Malachi and Elijah looking like hobos, shirts off, big thick walking sticks, red-faced, scratched, hot, hurting, but very glad to be back.

Tuesday early morning was one of the "for worse" moments for Mike when he had to help me and clean up after me. No photos necessary.
Glad to say that as of today my digestive system is back to normal.

Wednesday we welcomed our friends back--Jared from three days for high schoolers who aspire to become music educators. He was still wearing the uniform and smiling though tired. I think he really does want to teach music!

We all wanted to play games on our last evening together. However, Nertz may not have been the wisest choice against such a competitive family.

After losing hopelessly to champ Steve, we switched to Golf, and I won!

Thursday we waved goodby knowing that there will be many more opportunities, at least four year's worth of Bowyer visits to Indiana.

Friday I went again to the Farmer's Market, mostly to support our small town effort. Don't need so much produce with the weekly half-share from Victory Acres, and more from Stephan's garden, but the peaches are great. And I had an interesting conversation with one of the vendors there, a very artistic, creative mother of four boys!

BTW, tomorrow afternoon there will be a "Koch Baby #4 Gender Reveal"‏ party here, when Sam and Kristie will let us in on their secret.

Today, Saturday, my greatest accomplishment was a post about the Open House

We just returned from an evening of dance performances. We went to support the other Kochs' three lovely dancers.

And now it's time to say Good Night!
(I can't believe it--two posts in one day!)

One Year Anniversary Open House

One of daughter Leah's great signs

 Before the warm memories fade and smolder to extinction, I need to revisit the Big Day.
The event was so grand and spectacular that few references and photos could never do it justice, but then neither will this dedicated post.

From the early days after the house fire we determined to celebrate God's goodness to us, His protection and provision from day one to the completion of the new beautiful home. Ever since we moved in, January 10, 2012--seven months to the day after the fire--we have sensed an urge to be more intentional about hospitality. A ceremony of dedication was in order. To that end, we asked our pastors to be take part in our Open House and lead in prayers of thanksgiving and dedication.

As soon as the anniversary-celebration idea was born, we asked our chef-son to cater the event. He had nearly a year to ponder and plan. However, we had no idea what he was going to do until the very day. What a grand production it was! He set up a staging area in the garage, made several trips to deliver ingredients and tools, and work on various stages of food prep. Finally the ice sculpture arrived and was unveiled unwrapped section by section. The dining room table was opened to its full length, 9 feet, to accommodate the base, three slabs of ice, the pedestal holding a shelf  and finally the phoenix atop, emerging as from the flames. Stunning! And very practical as well. The ice served to keep the food fresh--servings of ceviche in dainty clear plastic cups lined the top shelf, while a variety of fruit adorned the lower left ice level and gravlax on the right.

Other menu items were still appearing when the first visitors arrived, neighbors Bobby and Glenda bearing a very thoughtful gift--the black marble stone she had rescued  from the rubble and had engraved with our name.

Next came our first pastor, Jay Kesler and his wife Janie, designated to pray for the 2:00 o'clock crowd.
Over the months and weeks of anticipating and planning the event, the idea came to have an official welcome and prayer at the top of each hour. As time passed and the day approached the plan became clearer in my mind, even so it took courage to step up, take leadership, do and say what I felt needed to be said. The two times I followed through were very special. However, the last hour slipped by without pausing to address that new crowd and we regretted that oversight disobedience ever since.
This is what God laid on my heart to share:

"Welcome and thank you for coming! 
The purpose of the Open House: to thank the community for their support; celebrate God's protection and provision; and have a prayer of dedication of the new house for His service and glory.

Before the prayer by .... ...a few things to note:

--the tree sculpture, designed and carved by our son Stephan (professional ice carver) to focus on the blessings of our lives. Pick up a leaflet that explains all the icons and symbols, the story of our life as a family."
At this point I read the paragraph that accompanied the initial concept drawing. Stephan's words:
I believe a simple iconic image such as this cup running over symbolizes our constant receipt of God's provision. God has bountifully given and provided not only for our basic nourishment but in fact He has given life abundantly. Our cup indeed runs over with friends all across the globe, with kindness from people at church, family, international friendships. God continually blesses us with every good thing. 
The porrón [I could not find an English equivalent anywhere for this item which was in our household from our world travels] symbolizes God's provision--provision without end--provision that is more than we could ever need (even if we never close our mouths while drinking from it)...
I tried to demonstrate how it is used. Then Stephan stepped out of the kitchen to add that experienced porrón users can swallow continuously with their mouths open.
...the grapes can refer to the wine of the new convenant or to the wine of the eucharist, the cup represents us as the vessel for God's provision, the flow can be the totem canvas for either country flags, place symbols, or both. 
This is both a dynamic and symbolic image to be appreciated from afar as a stirring silhouette and from close at hand with smaller images.
I put together a brochure to explain the symbols and our life story. Pick one up if you haven't yet.
[Readers may request one, I had many printed.]

--the original house was built by Mike over a period of three+ years, the replacement house by Bruce Sebestyen and crews on the same foundation.

--the spiral staircase is from the original house, refinished and restored by son Sam who also built all the cabinets, vanities, and the dining room table.

--radiant floor heating is a unique and efficient feature of the house.

--Downstairs is the Klaytivity studio and display area--Mike's hobby/business.

Welcome! Enjoy! Ask questions. Sign the guest book if you haven't yet.

Pastor Jay led in a beautiful prayer the first hour, and Pastor Mark the second. One reason I did not call everyone to attention at the 4:00 o'clock hour was that we had no pastor present to pray, faulty thinking added to my lack of confidence.

People came and went for over three hours. The guest book registered 130. We were so honored and blessed by everyone--neighbors, friends, family--and only wished we'd had more time to spend with each one.

Stephan and Karen worked non-stop replenishing the food. Unbelievable, not one photo of the amazing display! The entire counter was covered with artistically arranged focaccia bread, flan, and Yucatecan cochinita pibil with all the trimmings. Someone said it was like traveling the world! Very fitting menu by a chef who's been to 30+ countries! Despite little or no sleep, he enjoyed the event enough to suggest, "We should do this every year!"  A great plan--celebrate God's goodness in style annually!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Big Day and Beyond

The long anticipated event is over and we are in recovery mode, still feeling the warmth of the afterglow. It is difficult to pick one photo.

Welcome all!

Sunday, June 10th, we welcomed at least one hundred thirty visitors the three hours of the Open House and were sorry we couldn't spend more time with each one. There were many highlights: Stephan's ice sculpture and his catered spread were amazing; the pastors' prayers and the many wonderful comments; my mother was able to come! And many more. The event was so special and meaningful that our son Stephan suggested we do this every year!
One grandson asked to stay overnight. So Monday we enjoyed a special breakfast, if you like mice deviled eggs!

Breakfast mice, tails and all!
In the evening we returned Elijah to his family at the Monday meal, after a great day doing many things with and for Grandpa and Grandma.
Stephan put together another wonderful meal from some of the left over food from the Open House: bruschetta, ceviche, lox, fruit soup.

 Before dinner, in the other room--the SIL hair salon.

Tuesday morning Mike said, "Wanna ride to breakfast." "Okay."

Notice who took the shadow photo this time. We stopped to admire the wheat fields 'white unto harvest'.

Wednesday we had two important meetings, one in Marion and one in Indianapolis. After that we were hungry and tried a new eatery. Can you guess?

We decided next time to order only one hamburger and one order of fries. Great food!

Thursday morning, a repeat of Tuesday, "Wanna ride to breakfast?"

The corn is already waist high!

Friday noon we were invited to attend the 2nd annual “Our Small Towns-Thinking Regionally” conference to hear Stephan speak. He had set up an ice sculpture. We thoroughly enjoyed all the speakers we met and heard and especially our son's presentation!

Saturday I attended another community event, Think Outside the Barn, at Victory Acres with an interesting array of  very creative vendors, artists, craftsmen/women, workshops, and tours.

I went to one of the workshops and learned how to make a delicious smoothie using greens, like the ones I pick up every week as part of our membership.

Then, I gathered the goodies I purchased and my allotment of produce and went home to prepare for special overnight guests.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Busy Anticipation

You'd think our one big focus of the week would be preparing for the long planned-for and anticipated event--the Open House on the anniversary of the house fire. But NO, somehow our week was filled with other God-planned happenings. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Ephesians 2:10. I know I can trust God, that He will lead and give strength for whatever He puts before me!

So, Sunday we were still away from home, relaxing, enjoying our surroundings and our time together.

After breakfast stroll

Getting ready to get back on the road
The 40 mile return trip was longer and harder due to riding against the wind. We had a minor accident while coming out of an Arby's parking lot turning onto the main road. Mike said I panicked seeing the oncoming traffic and stopped pedaling which didn't allow him to unclip and put his foot down. I wasn't aware of this. So much for pedaling by sight and not by faith! Fortunately, we just toppled over gently, got a couple of scrapes and unfortunately lost the sun-clips for my glasses. I didn't realize this until a couple hours later. When I called the restaurant, they were kind enough to search and even go out on the road and look. They did find the mangled and broken remains. I believe that was only the second time we've fallen over the years and hundreds of miles of tandem travels.

Monday I bought flowers to fill the window boxes Mike built.

 We enjoy them from the outside and from indoors.

Michael was mowing and sprucing up our woodland over a period of several days.

He continues to be involved with ceramics at the Red Barn over the summer but only two days--Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4:00-6:00.

One of the more experienced students is bent over the wheel carefully shaping a piece. Reminds me of us as clay in the potter's hand, Isaiah 64:8.

So, where did Thursday go? I can hardly remember. Probably a blur of further preparations and errands.
We were getting ready for overnight guests, an informal gathering in our home Friday night and the Strawberry Festival in town Saturday, as well as the Open House Sunday.

We met Randy and Kim Grebe two years ago at the OM Ship's Partner weekend in Bermuda.They served for three years on the Logos Hope and now represent the OM Ship ministry and are based in Florence, SC. Their daughter and son-in-law live and teach in our local school system.
We invited people to come hear amazing stories of God at work in many lives in other countries through the unique platform of an ocean-going vessel carrying 400+ Jesus’ followers.

We found that our home is very adequate for such gatherings and had a wonderful time.

Saturday dawned bright and beautiful for the town festival. Mike went over early to set up the tent and ceramics display, and then spent most of the day practicing his latest interest, sculpting faces, this time with a live model, the above mentioned student. She loves throwing on the wheel, enough to sit and work in the heat for hours. She accomplished quite a lot before she had to leave for work at the local pizza place, eight pieces or more.

The Strawberry Festival will always remind me of the day after the house fire, our first time back to survey the mess and begin the rescue and restoration process. Our friends, Dane and Laurie, worked with us. At noon Dane went downtown and picked up huge tenderloin sandwiches and strawberry shortcakes for our lunch. We sat back in the picnic area away from the ugliness and enjoyed a wonderful meal together.

It is Monday already, I am late again. We are still recovering from and basking in the glow of our wonderful Sunday event. But you will have to wait for that story, which actually deserves a post or two of its own, if I can find the time.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Birthdays, Grandparenting, and Cycling

Sunday evening we were invited to Sam and Kristie's for the family celebration of our birthdays.

Of course we had to endure the horrible Koch-rendition of the birthday song. It only gets worse. And was longer this time, maybe to account for two birthdays.

Monday, Memorial Day, Mike decided it was a beautiful day for a tandem ride, so off we went for breakfast at McD's seven miles down the road. I get their oatmeal and senior coffee.

In the evening, Leah brought chicken and we had a lovely meal on the deck with a few family members. Later they watched TV and enjoyed watching them laugh and have fun!

Tuesday we went back to our neighbors who have a new business Reichert's Aquaponics and bought more plants and annuals. I planted till it grew dark.

From the line-up on the counter, it looks like Mike was busy "saggar" firing some old and new pots.

Like some of my gardening, Mike's ceramics is in part experimental. One is never quite sure what will result.

Wednesday evening after Malachi's game we brought all three boys home to spend the night.
This time we learned about some of their idiosyncrasies.
Elijah sleep walks and laughs out loud creepily when discovered, yet causes no trouble when led back to bed.
Zion has an issue with eating nuts. He chews them thoroughly, but refuses to swallow or spit out the mush. Can't talk in the process so he was quiet for a long time, except for crying when we tried to interfere.

Thursday Elijah asked grandpa for a pottery lesson.

View from above

View from outside through window
Friday is the day we pick up our share from Victory Acres. Here's a sampling of the variety for this second week of the season.

Mike and I went to see No Greater Glory and highly recommend it--the true story of the revolt in Mexico (1926-1929) of believers fighting for religious freedom and willing to die rather than deny Cristo Rey (Christ the King).

Saturday yet another tandem trip, longer this time, a mini-vacation of sorts. Forty miles to an overnight destination with dinner and a show at Bearcreek Farms.

One of our young friends said we were 'totally crazy' :-)  She was thinking of the 40 miles of cycling. My initial reaction was that with the Open House only a week away, and a full week ahead, perhaps this was indeed  a crazy idea. However, here we are, home again, tired and happy. More next week.