Sunday, June 24, 2018

2018 Week 25: Summer Stories

No better flower to open with this week, than Leah's surprise beauties, cacti blossoms.

Borrowed from Leah's Facebook

we enjoyed Stephan's demo of how he processes the logs to make beams and planks that will go into building their timber frame home.

We have a snake story. Last week as I drove out of the garage, I ran over something. I looked back and saw a snake coiled to protect it's wounded area. After a bit, it slithered off dragging entrails, then disappeared under the front deck.
This Tuesday when I went out to pick flowers, I perceived a foul odor emanating from the porch. Michael set to work to pull up a board and search under the deck. He successfully extracted the culprit and managed to dispose of the remains in the woods.
I looked out my loft window later and noticed a fowl attracted by the foul prize.

Michael has been intensely focused on working through the problems with the ThinSat, spending most of his time at MadJax. Hopefully they will be able to meet the next balloon launch for testing.
Wednesday he gave a presentation about the robotics program at a conference for high school teachers at Ball State. 
Every day this week I searched for any photos of Elijah on the Mircle Camp website. His expressions are priceless.

 A couple favorites.
Thursday, Alan and I attended a care plan conference for Mother. Her voice strength is still very weak. She has speech therapy daily and will be seeing an ENT soon. The therapists seeing her since she came out of hospital say she's doing fine and have either already discharged her or will in the coming days. Her resilience is amazing. Ivan remembers she used to say, "Life's great if you don't weaken."
I was so happy to find the poster that confirmed she has been participating in the Artcare program and impressed with the quality of her work.
After lunch we visited Aunt Margaret. They are dear friends but communication has become more difficult due to loss of hearing and speech. So they write letters and notes in the meantime.
The rest of the afternoon we watched the World cup soccer game between Argentina and Croatia, entertained but disappointed.

Friday,another long day alone, included: a very special memorial service; lunch at The Bridge, a SEGway to read and work the Sudoku puzzle; a mani pedi; the farmer's market; a little painting; and the daily keeping up with via email, Facebook, among other common tasks.

Saturday, again I kept myself occupied, hopefully productively while Mike was gone again until time for the event we'd been looking forward to--the airing of Now Entering Upland on WIPB. The community residents who participated as storytellers were invited to the studio and helped at the phone stations answering call-ins.

On the air--my view from a side phone station

Sunday, Michael gone again, this time for a great Father's Day gift--time spent together!

A Cubs game in Cinci
Kayla and Rebecca were also alone so we went out to lunch together.

A glimpse of Rebecca in Sunday School
 Now, we prepare for a week of new adventures. 
¡Hasta la próxima!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

2018 Week 24: A miscellany

 I suppose that title could apply to all our weeks.

Sunday we celebrated Matt's 26th birthday.

We are always reminded of  the major housefire we had on that day in 2011. A year later, June 10th, 2012, we had an open house celebration of the rebuilt home. Stephan catered the event, complete with a spectacular ice sculpture of a phoenix rising out of the ashes, beautifully symbolic.

Monday at the dinner we got to see Stephan and Karen's latest project in progress.

Michael went to the dinner straight from a long day at Madjax where he and another mentor were helping Moriah design and make a tester to check the 1000 tiny solar panels that will go in the satellites, part of her summer job.

As very often happens, the task takes longer than it takes! Tuesday they were at it again till almost 3:00 a.m.!

I think Michael went in to Madjax again on Wednesday to work on his own ThinSat issues. It is not unusual for him to come back and say, "We have to make changes again." Countless iterations of the inner workings and mechanisms of the ThinSats, each the size of a piece of toast. He loves what he does, though.

However, I may have had more fun that day, less drudgery anyway. I attended a ladies tea in town where we learned about flower arranging

Different views of the flower arangement at our table
The presenter owns a flower and gift shop in the neighboring town--A New Leaf. She created all these arrangements from flowers and greens picked early that morning from her garden.

Becky Banks is also a professor, so had dutifully prepared a three-page handout--much to learn along with a very practical demo.

My art adventures with the Watercolor Lessons calendar have provided me with a variety of unique cards to give away this time of year for graduations, anniversaries, and birthdays. Every other day or so I enjoy a half-hour of experimenting with mixing colors and using brushes to fill in the sketches as I try to copy the artists' examples.

On Thursdays a few of us get together to do art. Here is our youngest member who comes with her "Gdad."

Friday evening Mike and I attended the preview of "Now Entering Upland." WIPB (Indiana Public Broadcasting) started a series featuring small towns. They had covered three before ours. This year Upland was the chosen destination. A call went out for storytellers, residents willing to share. The response was great and resulted in the longest production to date. We were interviewed April 21. The producers then had the formidable challenge of editing the interviews, selecting from all the materials provided--photos, videos, articles, etc., and putting it all together in a very fluid smooth sequence. 
All that to say, wherever you are in the world, and if you are interested in Upland or anyone living there, watch "Now Entering Upland." Call in to the station to relay greetings or messages, and/or to donate to the cause. As one of the storytellers, I will be at a station taking calls. I must say, however, that watching myself on the huge screen and hearing myself speak, was a rather uncomfortable experience.

Saturday was the Grand Opening of the new nail salon in little Upland. I won a T-shirt and had fun chatting with friends.

Michael was gone on another of his loooong bicycle rides, 56 miles this time.

Two photos from today, Sunday. Rebecca arriving for summer Sunday School wearing yet another cute dress that almost matches Mommy.

And, a photo that arrived via e-mail announcing Elijah's arrival at Miracle Camp.

For a special Father's Day treat we used a gift certificate to Chili's, a treat for me too!

To all the fathers reading this: God bless you for your sacrificial involvement in the lives of your children!

Monday, June 11, 2018

2018 Week 23: Mother and More

My cell-phone camera was very busy this week.

Sunday morning I got a call from Grace Village. The nurse informed me that Mother had been complaining of a slight cough, congestion, and had not yet recovered her voice from when I had seen her on Tuesday. An xray seemed to indicate mild congestive heart failure, so her doctor wanted her to go to the ER. I drove up immediately. My brother Alan was there when I arrived.

As I drove, I began to think more seriously about preparing for when God's time comes for Mother to leave us. I honestly haven't given much thought to that eventuality, except to visit more often and enjoy the times we have.
I spent three days with her at Kosciusko Community Hospital, always coming home at night. I was glad to be her voice and help in any way possible. They put her through all kinds of tests: more xrays; EKGs and blood draws; ultrasound of the carotid arteries; brain and chest scans; an MRI. Several doctors were trying to understand and determine what was going on. The hospital xray showed her lungs were clear. The ENT put a scope down through the nose and found that her left vocal chord was not working. So the neurologist was checking for possible stroke.

She had a number of visitors, some sang and prayed with her.

My youngest brother Alan, who lives nearby, was there every day as much as possible. Of course he brought his work with him. I enjoyed spending that time with him, reconnecting, and learning about his new adventures. August 6th he will start teaching automechanics to high school students!

Tuesday evening she was discharged and I left her settled in her own bed. However, the questions she wrote that last day are still unanswered.

Meanwhile, back in Upland, Elijah arrived Sunday evening to spend the week with us and attend Fun in the Sun, a program for middle schoolers.
He made his bed when he got here, rode a bike back and forth to the church, prepared his own lunches, took our trash up to the road using the segway, and overall enjoyed his independence ;-)

Wednesday he and I went to Ivanhoes. I think he really enjoyed the Big Panther, the BLT salad and Reese's Cup sundae! (Actually we shared the last two.)

And I can sefely say he enjoyed beating us at Hand and Foot. Elijah looks bored, Michael appears to be stumped, and my hand looks to be in trouble.

Thursday morning Michael helped pour cement at the church, as they extend the parking area.
I am grateful for this photo sent to me. Deidra must have noticed that often Michael is under-represented in my blog.

Photo credit Deidra Blosser
He went in to Madjax in the afternoon to continue work on the satellite. The good news is that after numerous versions, they got this one to work, and may be ready for the second balloon launch next Friday!

Elijah and I went to Jude's PreK graduation that evening. The little guy is very expressive! We were quite entertained by his performance of the song "Jesus is my Superhero." When it came time for his recognition, the sign he held up read: "When I grow up I want to be teacher/boxer."

The Spring Kochout for the robotics team was planned for Saturday, and we also had overnight guests arrive. So they enjoyed the fun and food as well.

Patricia and Tim Young
People, conversation, games going on inside and outside, after the rain. 

I taught the early arrivals a new game that Elijah showed me, and that kept going all evening with varying groups.

Have you ever played "trash"?

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

2018 Week 22: Reminiscing and Learning

One of the sweet birthday gifts was this little bud vase. I placed a closed broken iris bud in it that night. What a beautiful surprise awaited me the next morning!

As I put away the birthday cards, I just want to show off Kayla's designs. She just recently took up card-making as a hobby. Can you guess which one is Mike's?

Memorial Day was a quiet holiday for us, no Monday dinner at Stephan's so we took off on the tandem for a lovely ride and meal in the neighboring town.

Later that night, our first summer guests arrived. The Grebes had stayed in our "ship room" a few years ago. They live on the Logos Hope, OM's latest and only ship. Every year during mandatory dry dock repairs all must vacate the vessel and disperse in various teams, except the most necessary work crew. They had an extra week added on so were able to make a quick trip to visit their daughter in Indiana, a town nearby. 

At least every other week, on a Tuesday, I try to visit Mother. On the way up I stopped in Marion for breakfast with Diane. She was eager to try the buckeye pancakes at Bob Evans on the last day of their special.

Mother had lost her voice that morning and was quite frustrated. Even so, we had a good time together.

Wednesday we invited our guests to join us at a prearranged reunion breakfast with the Kasteleins, dear friends who are responsible for our move from the ship Doulos to Upland 35 years ago! They have since retired and moved away but travel regularly to visit family and friends.

Randy and Kim Grebe
This gathering brought together a 40 year span. In the early days of the ship ministry, Taylor University offered the M/V Doulos computer assistance. John Kastelein was the spokesperson who traveled to the ship twice to make the offer. Mike and Bob were involved in the intermediate system design and development for handling the inventory and flow of books on the "largest floating bookstore in the world."  The Grebes, who are both involved in leadership roles on the Logos Hope, brought a report of the amazing things happening currently through the ship ministry as a result.

Randy and Kim Grebe, Mike and Rita Koch, Bob and Linda Craton, John and Elvida Kastelein
It was wonderful to reminisce about long ago, and so encouraging to hear what is happening as the Logos Hope sets out to travel around Latin America the next two years. There are many challenges  ahead, but already in two ports they've heard from many who were blessed by the previous visits  

Friday morning, after the mandatory farewell photo by the famous Koch-tree, the Grebes left to catch their flight to Veracruz, Mexico to rejoin the ship and welcome the 300 or so crew members sent out on teams around the world. Randy will be the director for awhile. Kim is responsible for planning for volunteers, visiting groups, and more.

Later Mike set off for one of his almost daily adventures. This time he rode 46 miles! We are amazed and grateful that so far he has experienced no pain.

Saturday, we enjoyed a together-adventure, another tandem date. This time we rode the greenway from Gaston to Muncie. At the end there is what is called "The Island"--an area decorated like a tropical retreat where they sell wonderful smoothies.

As we rode the trail I marveled at the delicate sweet fragrance all along. Just wished I knew which plants it came from.