Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 Week 13

It happened again! Three times it snowed or flurried this week, but did not linger long.

Leah endured a two-hour procedure but felt it was all worth it for the new smile!
I teased her about the 'pacifier.' Thanks to these impressions, she will get the permanent teeth in a couple weeks.

Four grandsons spent the night and found ways to entertain themselves. The little man climbed the staircase over and over and over and was so quick that most photos were blurry.
Where's the older brother? Probably cleaning up after the others, always so helpful.

A widowed friend that I don't see too often showed me a favorite spot by the river. Only a few miles from here, such beautiful rolling terrain. The sun was setting. A lone Canadian goose stood motionless.

I visited a few local businesses to drop off flyers about the upcoming poetry and arts festival as I've been recruited to help on the organizing committee. My young friend was on shift at Subway so I tried the new 'flatizza.'

I always have a few creative projects to work on in spare moments. This week I finished one of them, another baby hoodie.

Mike has been helping son-Stephan at the third annual ice carving competition in Yellowknife, NWT. It was a beautiful design, but risky. On the last day, twenty minutes before the end of the twenty eight hours, they removed the last temporary support, and . . . Oh, no! . . . one of the cranes collapsed. Even so they placed fourth.

Yesterday was a 'Diane-day.' SIL wanted to go to Fort Wayne so we went to the big mall. Our main destination was Barnes and Noble. She loves bookstores.
We had a mix of rain and snow the way there. Gratefully, an easier drive on the way back.

Today I decided to change my cover photo. This is what I see now, a bit drab, except when the sun is out. Soon we will have spring flowers!

Monday, March 24, 2014

2014 Week 12: Boilermaker Regional

The snow is gone except for a small pile, but the weather is still cooler than we'd like and I haven't seen any spring flowers yet. I did, however, bring in the snow man by the door and the spring wreath is waiting to be hung. 

This week was mostly consumed by the robotics competition--three days in West Lafayette and the previous ones preparing to leave.
I did manage to stop by the Pottery room at the Red Barn, on Monday after tap class, to see Mike's latest clay sculpture. What shall we name her? She looks very serious, sullen, scared?

Thursday morning, way before dawn, we picked up the only Upland student participant and headed to Muncie to load Pac-man, the robot, and all the necessary tools and materials in the U-Haul.
As soon as I walked in I was given safety glasses, required for even walking through the pit area. I watched the two Uplanders get to work on the robot and then proceeded to the section of the bleachers where most of the team and fans had settled.

A selfie was in order. Even my hair shows team spirit with its greenish glow, no product involved!

That first day was somewhat slower, a day to practice on the field and sort out any issues the robot may have.

Let the games begin! Is Pac-man ready?

Waiting to eat dinner in the Amelia Earhart Dining Commons.

After all the rounds we ranked in the middle of the pack of 40 teams from seven states, 28 from Indiana.
We had survived several mishaps and two crisis interventions. The last match of the day was significant because we won with only two bots on our alliance!

The day ended with our team hosting an ice cream social in the hotel--root beer floats for all thanks to the generosity of our new friends at Triple XXX Family Restaurant, Indiana's oldest drive-in. No ordinary root beer, only the original "Triple XXX brand, meaning excellence, the highest grade, the best!"

Saturday morning, after an opening ceremony, seventeen or eighteen matches remained before alliance selection began--the top eight seeded teams take turns inviting two others to join them. We were asked to join the 8th seeded alliance as their third robot. Our valiant Pac-man performed admirably within its strengths--picking up balls and assisting the other robots with the capability to throw for high points. Collaboration was the theme of the game and our robot ranked very high in assists.
We played the top seeded alliance, lost the first match and thought we had defeated them in the second game but, alas, a 50-point foul was called against us.

For me, the best part was getting to know the kids, parents, grandparents, mentors, and above all becoming a part of Mike's world of robotics. I had not joined him for several years and was totally out of the loop.
I had great conversations with the women. Some of us found only one or two degrees of separation! A mother of two of the kids was my student years ago and now has five children! Another knows our son. These grandparents taught line-dance classes we used to attend years ago.

Furthermore, I went away convinced that FIRST is the best work-force development program there is.

Monday, March 17, 2014

2014 Week 11: More snow, more birthdays

Warm and cold days follow in rapid succession as spring approaches, or not!
Aches and pains come and go as we grow older. Both of us this week were dealing with various issues, doctor appointments, tests, medications, but still continue to enjoy life and whatever each day brings.

Monday, another dentist appointment for Leah, not as painful this time, however the area remains sensitive and precarious until this procedure is over.

Tuesday, if possible, I stick to a writing schedule in the morning and may have completed the final (?) revision of our love story. The afternoon was so warm and spring-like I swept the deck--ready for the next snowfall! Then I cleaned the solarium and rearranged the plants. Some may not survive the winter, and most are eager to be moved outside and/or be re-potted.

Wednesday we awoke to a beautiful landscape, the clingiest snow of the season, every pine needle coated.

Throughout the day I captured these different views of the pine we brought back from Canada.

It was Stephan's birthday and here's what he said on Facebook about the snowstorm:
"For all of you Winter haters: I was born in a blizzard 43 years ago and that blizzard has shaped my attitude about all things Winter, apparently. So just know that today's snowstorm is none other than a birthday gift for me!"

Stephan at 4 months; First Christmas, in Germany; Wearing his wedding zoot suit 

Thursday, even though the sun was out, Brutus the cat was not so sure about the snow and much preferred to nap indoors. 

Looks like someone else enjoyed a nap. I borrowed Kristie's Facebook photo for you to see Sam. So many continue to ask about him. The incision has closed up this time, but his energy is not 100% yet.

Friday on my way to the writers' critique group, I stopped for this take. While not a great photo, it reminds me of how blessed I am to meet with these friends committed to help one another achieve excellence in writing. We have great fun and many laughs in the process.

That evening we tried out the new restaurant in town--RP's Pizza. Hope it lasts longer than all the others that have preceded it in that location.

Next we went to the Taylor Theatre production of the commedia The Servant of Two Masters. Hilarious!

I had nothing to show for Saturday, except a house in order, ready to welcome our growing family and celebrate two birthdays on Sunday. As busy hostess and grandma-on-demand, it is almost impossible to enjoy the event and take pictures too. Here are a few of the better ones.

It's time to learn about the different chess pieces!

The Lil'Kernel may be the size of an avocado this week, but we already notice its presence and may soon find out its gender!

A new fun family game was introduced: Spot It!

Thus ends the week and another wonderful family gathering. Many hands helped clean up the mess so the old folks could enjoy a quiet evening.

Monday, March 10, 2014

2014 Week 10

Sunday, we never got the 6 to 10 inches of snow that had been forecast. However, enough that we stayed home and watched the service live online mostly because Michael didn't feel up to it. I'm happy to report that he is much better. In fact on Friday he went out for the first bicycle ride of the season--20 miles!

Monday, we were at Stephan and Karen's again, and so was Chef, back from Alaska! We enjoyed the little ones present. Hard to believe that baby Arya at nearly three months does not weigh as much as our boys when they were born!

Tuesday I spent considerable time rewriting our love story. Interestingly, on Facebook I had a flood of congratulatory notes after someone discovered and shared a photo I posted January 31, 2010, on our 40th anniversary. The last person wrote, in Spanish, ". . . cuenten la clave de tanto aguante!" (Tell us the secret of such endurance.)

Wednesday, while Mike was at one of his doctor's appointments, I went to the lunch for seniors and enjoyed a powerful presentation by Dr. Wes Rediger. I enjoyed our conversation, especially learning about what his son (a former student of mine) and family are doing.
You can watch the same talk given to the Indiana Senate last November: The Re-united States of America.

Thursday, Words With Friends sent me an email, my stats for the previous year. Fun, though nothing to brag about.

Friday, I took my young friend Trisha to several sessions of the film festival Envision, at Taylor University.
She was star struck (hence the effects I chose to enhance her photo!) because she actually got to shake hands with Jason Burkey, a 2007 TU grad, lead actor in October Baby and several other films.

In his spare time Mike has been back in his studio putting the finishing touches to his current sculpture.
One morning I caught the sun highlighting the golden tresses of the lovely harpist, his first creation.

This weekend Stephan and Mike spent an entire afternoon on a maquette of what they will be carving out of ice in Yellowknife, NWT, Canada later this month.

Leah had a lot of fun this week painting three old guords.

In my spare moments I enjoy creating with fabric scraps. No photos just yet.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

2014 Week 9: Pain and Beauty

Pain was the first word that came to mind to characterize this week. Three family members are dealing with physical pain.
But as I uploaded the photos, I recognized a good amount of beauty as well.

Sunday I woke to a new dusting of snow and spotted nine beautiful creatures parading through our woods quite close to the house. 

After church Diane and I went out to eat and enjoyed some good laughs.

Michael arrived back from the golf trip early Monday morning and has been dealing with pain all week. While down in Myrtle Beach he had to visit the ER and they found a kidney stone. He survived on meds, but missed one day of golf. He's been to his doctor here and they are still trying to figure out what to do.

I have been cooking more than usual and have really enjoyed using the excellent knife Stephan gave us. Notice the leather case he made and our names engraved on the knife. Beautiful!

Meanwhile Stephan was in Alaska carving a stunning piece of art entitled Teaching Breaching. This time the design was Aaron Costic's--his fellow carver, the captain. Stephan's part was to sculpt water, the wave!

We all enjoyed watching the Ice Alaska website and following their progress. You can see Stephan Koch, bio here which includes photos of previous years' sculptures. And visit all 50 sites to enjoy exceptional art. 

I had to look up the meaning of breaching: "To leap from the water: waiting for the whale to breach."

Thursday was Leah's first root canal procedure. To face the dreaded ordeal she wore her lovely birthday jewelry.
She was very brave throughout but the after-pain torture hangs on days later. 

Friday morning was Sam's surgical procedure to clean out the incision that stubbornly refuses to close properly.
He had to be there three hours before, at an unearthly hour, so I picked up Kristie and the little ones and drove down in time for her to drive Sam back. 

The boys and I waited in the car. When I turned around to entertain them and take pictures, Jude knew exactly what to do--smile and say "Cheese!"

In the end the boys rode back with Kristie and Sam, and I came home concerned about Mike. Pain seems to come in waves.

The next day, I caught Sam doing dishes. He also obliged me with a smile for the camera. His back was hurting from whatever they did and he'd had a headache. Today his face is swollen. They are hoping it is a normal part of the healing process. 

Saturday we needed to go to Sam's again to pick up a vehicle. The weather was okay so I finally got to keep my birthday promise to Elijah, a month later. We follow the Garfield trail and visit a different statue each year. 

The best part is just spending time together with my delightful grandson. By the time we complete our series "Growing up with Garfield," Elijah will be taller than grandma!