Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2017 Week 51: Twas the week before Christmas . . .

. . .a very full week of preparing for Christmas: most of the shopping for gifts; final details of decorations; food preparation; still sending receiving letters and cards; and the internet abuzz with greetings from around the globe. All this required intentional focus and very steady plodding. And thus didn't feel rushed. We were even able to do several extras.

For some years now Michael is invited to share a pottery lesson in the first grade Sunday School around this time of year. I joined in toward the end and helped a little with the final steps of the project they did this year. The four boys enjoyed the lesson and the hands-on activity. One especially hung around afterwards and showed appreciation. He then turned to me and asked, "Do you live with that guy?" Yes, I thought, I'm very fortunate indeed! And said, "Yes, we've been married almost 48 years."

That evening we ventured out with our tandem and joined the tail end of the crowd of riders taking off from Broad Ripple in Indianapolis. The 20-mile Luminary ride was well attended this year, some 50-70 bicycles all lit up and decorated, one of them even playing Christmas music the whole way. Weather in the lower 40s was good for most. However, three hours of it was a bit much for me.
Michael asked,  "Are you sorry?" "No," I said, "but I'm smarter." It was the kind of experience that is more enjoyable in retrospect!

A couple days later as I was having lunch with Mother and telling her about the ride, her table mate spoke up and said, "My husband and I rode bicycles all the time." And went on to tell of riding regularly, and longer on weekends, and doing 300 mile treks carrying their things in panniers like we have done. At 96, a widow for some time now, Geraldine says, "I never imagined I'd be an invalid."

I had gone up that morning to attend Mother's rehab conference. Everyone in charge of her care says she is doing well, but will she with time make the necessary progress to move back to her Assisted Living apartment? We want what is best for her.

One of my shopping trips took me to Muncie. I stopped in to deliver some things and visit with Kristie and the boys. Elijah wanted to play the Christmas songs he was practicing for our family get together. 
Notice, Kristie is wearing her work "uniform"--jeans and t-shirt with logo of the ABA clinic where she works.

I promised a view of our Christmas tree. By Saturday the gifts were wrapped and waiting, in record time, the earliest ever, because my craft room/gift center had to be ready for Diane's arrival that afternoon.

Last year's family Christmas included this portrayal of the shepherds and angels praising God, and a little lamb unsure of what's going on. 

I used that photo for our 2017 Christmas card.
If this blog post weren't so late, I'd say, "Merry Christmas!" But at this late date, it is more appropriate to wish you all a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

2017 Week 50: Lights and trees

Upland Depot Park
The week began with one of my favorite events: Kayla's students' dance recital at Cornerstone for the Arts in Muncie. She was directing and/or dancing with her students in thirteen acts.

One of Kayla's favorite dance classes is musical theatre. This year they performed Mary Poppins.

"Let's go fly a kite"
Our own Kristie was in the adult ballet class, a first for her! 

It was college finals week. I met with each of these students individually one last time.

That evening we enjoyed another of Stephan's meals with friend Gina and her cute and boisterous little grandsons.

Finally, Tuesday, when grades were turned in, I dragged out all the Christmas stuff from the attic and decorated one tree.

The "anorexic" tree
 Meanwhile, Moriah spent the entire day completing assignments and studying for finals, with very few breaks or interruptions. Way to keep plodding, Moriah! That takes grit!

What a fun surprise to look out my writing area window in the loft and discover that Michael had put together the lighted deer. He says it was the only one he saw this season. Not a successful hunting year.

Michael also put together our big Christmas tree and strung new lights. (Photo of decorated tree will come next week.)

Thursday I took off for Winona Lake again to spend time with Mother and encourage her in the long recovery phase. That evening they had a carol sing and devotion in the activities room across the hall from her. She'd had her hair done that day. That makes her happy. Can you believe that at 96 she still has a reddish tint?

This time I spent the night in Ivan and Kim's guest room and had a nice visit with them.
Friday the 15th I was reminded that 60 years earlier was our grandmother Hoyt's funeral in Winona Lake, IN. We were living in Evans City, PA, that year. Mother was great with child, Ivan, due in a few weeks, so we did not travel with Dad.

 I was able to enlarge the photo on my phone and show Mother the various ornaments including the new one in the center, a house to represent their current occupation HP Home Rescue.

Our favorite activity together is to read old letters. This time I had the last batch from Aunt Margaret to finish up, a smattering from the years 1963-1966. I learned many interesting details, such as the exact date of my final departure from Argentina, December 20, 1963, a very different Christmas that year.

Meal times I join Mother's table. The long waits allow for fun interaction with the residents. The lady on the left was also a missionary in Argentina. And once upon a time I taught their daughter in the third grade of the Escuela Cristiana Evangélica in Río Cuarto, Córdoba.

 From one nursing home to another. . . Saturday, back home, the big event for me was the Dancin Divas' (or was it the Tapping Divas) performance at the University Nursing Center nearby.

 I think we agreed we'd take a better photo if we planned on it before the performance instead of an afterthought. At least we are all smiling, like we should be while dancing, which is hard to do when you're concentrating on the steps!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

2017 Week 49: Poco a poco

Little by little getting into recovery mode, wrapping up the semester, catching up with Mother, beginning to think of Christmas decorations, or maybe not.

"End of Fall" last water color of the season

Kayla had a surprise this week, a prestigious award and some very nice things said about her wonderful work with hundreds of dance students.

At our ladies Christmas brunch we were given this list, perfect reminder for me this year.

Thursday and Friday I spent with Mother in the rehab area of Grace Village. My SIL Kim wrote a blog post that explains all about Mother's current circumstances.

We enjoyed lunch together in her room.

Later, after her nap, it was time to go hear the Chime Choir perform their Christmas rehearsal concert. The members are all residents of Grace Village, average age 85. Our dear friend Margaret (96) is still playing with them. She thought they made many mistakes. It sounded all beautiful to me, and I was especially moved by the refrain, "He forgets not his own."

"Aunt Margaret" stopped by to visit after and Ivan and Kim dropped by for a few minutes.

Mother was ready for bed by 6 p.m. I spent the night in her apartment in the Assisted Living area. 
The next morning I looked out her favorite window over at the wing where Mother is now and wondered how long till she is able to come back. 

It was a busy morning for Mother. She had a whole team working with and for her.

She is tough, hardworking and does not complain. She was especially eager to have her hair styled
but wasn't sure she liked it so poofy.

Mother and I spent every possible moment reading old letters, recalling events, people, struggles, thoughts and feelings from life as pioneer church planters in Don Bosco, Argentina, in 1954 and '55.
When we were done, she took a nap and I came home

Saturday morning, as per a tradition, Moriah and her other freshman friends were "abducted" and taken to the home of their community "wing connection" for breakfast. We are so grateful that Moriah was adopted by a residence hall floor and can participate in all their fun events.

Three friends; the "abduction"

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2017 Week 48: Celebration of Life

Another BIG week for our household and my family--I was sick; Mother fell, broke her hip and had  surgery; and finally the memorial service for my brother Lynn in Las Vegas.

Christmas cheer is appearing everywhere, but no visible signs in our home yet.
I was delighted to see a Christmas tree set up at Stephan and Karen's Monday, their largest ever and the first since moving to Dove's Crossing.

Mother fell Sunday and had surgery Tuesday. I am grateful for my siblings that live nearby and can look in on her and work on all the insurance issues and arrangements. We are so grateful that they were able to get coverage accepted by Grace Village and have her moved into their rehab area. Mother has surprised us with her good progress, yet we are well aware that at her age healing will take a long.

A sore throat hit me Sunday and worsened as I was teaching Monday morning. Our resident student has had the same symptoms all week. I saw the doctor Thursday because I'd be traveling Friday. Moriah finally went to the clinic yesterday. So we've been in survival mode, getting by with only the most important responsabilities. Three quiet homebound days allowed me to go scour the archives, read letters, and write some memories of Lynn to share at his memorial.

Michael has a touch of respiratory issues but nothing that holds him back. He's been intensely busy with the assembly and delivery of the first lot of BattHawks; meetings, problem solving, presentations to do with the joint PhyXTGears-Taylor University satellite project; and the long ago planned bi-annual Kochout scheduled for the same day as Lynn's memorial. As if that were not enough he had to try to unblock the kitchen sink and in the end called plumbers to fix the problem with their bigger tools. The weather was pleasant enough that he also got out for a bicycle ride twice! I think that's about to change tho', the weather I mean.
Michael was kind enough to drive me to the airport in Fort Wayne at "O'dark 30" Friday. We left a little after 4:00 a.m., the moon was bright.

A last goodbye at the airport
We raced from one end of the Chicago airport to the other, made the connection just in time to board and were up in the air for long enough in cramped conditions. At the end of the flight the pilot sys, "We hope you enjoyed the flight."  Ha!  

It was only mid morning when we arrived in Vegas, so we had a long day to fellowship and become acquainted with some family members we hadn't met yet and catch up with the others. People, food, and memorabilia from Argentina everywhere. Great fun!

Mmmm . . . mate and Mary's butter cake.

I'd never seen a yerba mate dispenser before. Nor had I ever heard of their strange Hand and Foot rules! 

Top: Alan, Micheal, Bambi, Philip, Ivan
Bottom left: Bambi and Rosalyn. Bottom right: Mary, Kathy, Priscilla
Saturday everyone was up unusually early, preparing and anticipating the memorial service. . . and reminiscing about Lynn.

It was a good service. I was able to share what I had written and only wished others had spoken up with memories.

After the fellowship meal we had the rest of the day to explore Las Vegas. Rachel, Lynn's only granddaughter, wanted us to see the Christmas flower display at the Bellagio. It was opening day and very crowded.

When we walked out, early evening, the moon was creeping up between the buildings and the impressive water shows had begun.

Ah! The grand finale was dinner at an authentic Argentine restaurant--Rincón de Buenos Aires--complete with live tango music. A deliciously nostalgic event.

Another loooong day Sunday--three flights brought us safely back to Fort Wayne via San Francisco and Chicago. I can say I saw Alcatraz. Can you see it?

Monday, November 27, 2017

2017 Week 47: Giving Thanks

Like most of you, we enjoyed a family gathering and Thanksgiving feast. Mike was the chief cook and I was in charge of the program. Our expressions of gratitude were by means of a game. First, I read my friend Rachael Phillips' post: Thanksgiving 2017. Then everyone, even the little ones, had five minutes to make their own "weird list of things they were thankful for." If they didn't know how to write, they could draw. Everybody was involved. Those were the only minutes of silence in the whole day! But the conversation that followed when everyone read their lists was very lively. Great fun! Some 200 items made the lists, some abstract, like humor, love, vulnerability, openness, worship, friendship, etc. Items listed by someone else were crossed off. Karen and Malachi had the longest lists. And Jude interpreted what his drawings represented. He won the children's category.

One item on my list was the ongoing watercolor class This week we attempted our first larger painting applying some of the techniques we'd learned.

The highlight of the week was our family togetherness--outdoor and indoor fun. 

RWL (rolling with laughter) similar to LOL

Zion shared his new birthday cards. Can you tell what game we played?

Skye was here with his girlfriend Cassie. The only one who couldn't come was Matt, as a millwright he often has to work odd hours and holidays. 

I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of everyone. I was too busy enjoying the growing family. Yes, the younguns are growing in stature, knowledge, wisdom and grace. Two of them celebrated birthdays this week: Malachi is now 19, and Zion 8.

How did I find time to color the most complicated design this week?! Ha! Too many tired evenings relaxing watching listening to TV with Michael.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

2017 Week 46: Life, love, loss

This week I lost the brother I welcomed almost 70 years ago. I am grateful for the time we had him and the love he shared with everyone. He left us too soon but suffers no more.

My family before three more brothers
The week was full as always. Life goes on. Monday after class I met with friend Julia at a fancier restaurant. I ordered their specialty soup, French onion, by chance, also unaware of what the scissors were for--to cut the cheese!

That evening, Stephan's meal was well attended, including a visitor from France and two from Thailand!

Kari & Jason Diller, Vincent
We had a new art teacher who led us through a series of techniques, showed us what different brushes do, and gave us some of his small sample pieces.

Kayla had asked me to take Rebecca to a special party at the library celebrating Mo Willems, the author they had been reading during story time. Here she is posing with the characters: Pigeon, Piggie, and Elephant.

Thursday evening, Moriah and I drove in to Muncie to MadJax to surprise her mother for her birthday.

While there, we got to see all the many activities going on. Michael and a few students were assembling BattHawks, the volt meters for robot batteries they designed and will be selling.

In another area a young FLL team (FIRST Lego League) was busy preparing and practicing for the competition weekend.

Friday, after a busy day, we got away. SIL Kim welcomed us with a wonderful Thai soup before we headed over to the Grace College Little Theatre.

As proud grandparents we were very entertained by the debonnaire Professor Jordan in the play "39 Steps."
Professor Jordan, a.ka. Malachi Koch
We spent the night at Ivan and Kim's, slept long and well in their comfortable guest bed, and were treated to a wonderful breakfast. It was so good to linger and visit, a rare opportunity.

We then ate lunch with Mother in her dining room in the Assisted Living area of Grace Village.

That evening our resident student actually went on a "pick-a-date" event and had so much fun!

Otherwise she is doing homework ALL the time, sometimes upside down just for variety.

We have so much to be thankful for all the time, not only in this season set aside to focus on Thanksgiving. Will you be making a list this week? I'd love to hear what you are especially thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving!