Tuesday, July 31, 2018

2018 Week 30: Basque Visitors and Birthday

 Not too many flowers available to pick for a bouquet. However, the begonias I winterized in the window boxes are thriving.

Monday after coffee with friend Petey we checked out two lovely public gardens.

Last week the town paper carried my article which describes our involvement with young people from the region of Spain we've visited a few times.

A few of the activities with our Basque "grandson" Jon. A second game of Hand and Foot. He caught on with no problem, but as "luck" would have it, I won.

One day we explored the woods and he enjoyed climbing up to the hunter's seat.

Another day we toured Taylor University where he spotted this large cardboard insect in the art department.

The group traveled to Chicago for a couple days. So while they were gone, I visited Mother on Wednesday, Bingo day.

We--brothers Ivan (all the way from Las Vegas) Alan. nephews Nicolas and Daniel, and family friend "Aunt" Margaret (also 97)--celebrated Mother's upcoming birthday, July 29.

I arranged the birthday cards that had arrived and admired cousin Beth's beautiful gift of a Scripture coloring book and pencils.

Meanwhile, the entire week, every day, Michael and Stephan were totally focused on pool renovation, overcoming problems, and beautifying the surroundings.  (More to come next week.)

Friday morning  our new neighbor kids came over to use the zipline. Recently our youth pastor and family of five kids moved in next door.

That evening the Basque gang was at Sam and Kristie's for ice cream and later fun by the fire pit.

That evening I asked Zion to model Ivan's uniform from when he was a school kid in Argentina.

When we were kids growing up in Argentina, my brothers and I had to wear white uniforms to school. In my days they were pleated, starched and ironed. Mother had it easier with the youngest siblings, the gurdapolvos, as they are called, were a different style and fabric, like wash and wear.
Ivan gave me a bin of memorabilia that he could not take with him. I had so much fun reminiscing with each item I pulled out. (More to come next week).

Ivan worte:
Definition of guardapolvo: A smock worn by school children designed to "keep dust" and to make all children equal in socioeconomic class. unfortunately it is very effective in accomplishing the former and equally ineffective at the latter.
Jon presented us with gifts from his country: a popular brand t-shirt with the symbol of a whale (the whaling industry was huge until 1904); a beautiful table cloth and napkins in the colors of the Basque flag. The adorned table was conducive to fancier meals.

Much more to come next week as we say goodbye to our new friends from the Basque region of Spain.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

2018 Week 29: Camp, pool, and cycling

When the day lilies by the mail boxes bloom I have sweet memories of the former neighbor who planted them. These blooms are so fleeting, however, and so is the Mothers' Day hibiscus. It was there one day and gone the next. Perhaps it was the rain storm that knocked it off it's stem.

 Sunday the Basque students left for Miracle Camp. Every day I looked for them in the camp photos posted daily. These were the welcome-to-camp group pics. Can you pick out our boy?

We were delightfully surprised to have friend Judy join us at Stephan's Monday dinner. The pear tarte Tatin was amazing too.

Michael and Stephan have spent many hours this week working on various aspects of the process of the swimming pool renovation. Wednesday Sam and Elijah joined to help with pouring the cement floor.

Thursday evening, however, we took Diane out for dinner and a stroll through the Matter Park gardens, often referred to as Marion's best kept secret. The flowers are beautiful and there's a great variety. I really enjoyed the many bronzes which represent children playing outdoors. I think that is less common nowadays. Here are a few favorites.

Here is my favorite little girl and I do believe she loves to play outdoors. I miss seeing her, so I borrowed this photo from Facebook.

For some time we've been wanting to join an annual family bicycle ride with friends. We asked Sam's family to keep Jon overnight so we could  do this.
After a day on the tandem, Mike still had energy to play kick ball with the young'uns.

We had a neat surprise at one of our stops. I just wanted to get a picture of the two of us by this bike. When we looked down we saw it was a memorial to one of our cycling friends who passed away a few years ago.

Sunday morning we had a different kind of church service  outside the school where we'd spent the night with a meaningful meditation led by "Coach" Davenport (84) who started Wanderfing Wheels in 1964.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

2018 Week 28: Basque Month continued

Week 2 began without our Basque grandson who spent the night at Sam's place, and with our other illoba euskaldun (Basque grandson). Sunday they all attended their church in Muncie.
The boys came later for youth group at Upland Community Church. They were invited to swim in another host family's pool and roast marshmallows after.  
Gabriel learns to make a s'more

Monday was a commemorative day in several ways:
--Argentina's 202 birthday--9 de julio, Día de la Independencia
--Four years ago, on that special day, in the hospital after Mike's surgery, we watched Argentina defeat the Netherlands qualifying them for the Finals in the World Cup.
--More importantly, 45 years ago, Leah joined our family!

We celebrated her adopted birthday in several ways throughout the week.
First, at Stephan and Karen's Monday Night Dinner, along with Sam's family and our Basque boys.
After the wonderful meal--perfectly prepared venison, various vegetables and Karen's wonderful Apfelkuchen (a German apple cake for the German-born daughter!), we enjoyed a variety of activities.
Leah enjoying the farm and some special gifts!
The guys took turns trying to beat the 30-second clock in the Bull's Eye Ball game.

Kids everywhere spend every spare moment on their devices.

Tuesday, Leah got what she desperately wanted--a hair cut!

Wednesday, the Basque kids spent a day at Kentucky Kingdom (amusement and water park). Michael was the brave adult who drove the people mover, and Elijah the lone non-Basque speaking youth.

Meanwhile I took the day to visit my mother. I could not find her in her room. A tiny beautifully written note on the calendar read, "Play Bingo at the fair." I soon learned that they had transported all who wanted to the county fair for Senior Day. I found her there and we enjoyed special music by The Chain Gang Barbershop Quartet.

Mother is grappling with the losses that come with aging. Her voice has not returned. She mouths or rasps the words, "I can't walk and I can't talk." We will soon celebrate her 97th birthday.

Thursday, was a shopping trip for the Basque group to the Fort Wayne mall. Was it more fun for the girls than the guys?

A week-long focus for Michael was to research, learn about pools, and work with Stephan to get theirs in working order to hopefully provide many fun times for family and friends.

It seemed that every spare moment the boys were home, the dining room table was converted for ping pong. When they got bored of using regular paddles they reverted to other implements such as dust pans, hands, until frustrated they'd had enough!

Friday and Saturday was the Indiana Robotics Invitational, an event that gathers the best teams in the world.

Our Team 1720 was privileged to be invited having been an alternate on an alliance in the finals at Worlds, and especially fortunate that this high level competition is so close, in Indianapolis!   
Michael left very early each morning taking some members of the drive team.

This was also an opportunity to train the new drive team. Those that went to Worlds were all seniors in their very last season. Only John, the tall one, stayed on as coach.

The Basque kids got an introduction to the FIRST program and experienced the Friday morning qualifying matches.
Elijah went home after that and Jon slept for hours that afternoon, again after the evening meal. Saturday morning, after ascertaining that he was indeed alive, I asked him to teach me how to make tortilla de patatas, Spanish potato omelet. He was happy and proud to do so. I was impressed with his performance, the process, and the result!

1. Peel and cube 6 potatoes
2. Fry them in 1" deep oil until crusty on outside and soft inside.
3. Beat eggs, 2 or 3 more than number of potatoes.
4. Add potatoes and 2 tsp of salt.
5. Dump all into small amount of hot new oil (olive) in larger fry pan (preferably a Spanish omelette pan).
6. Turn when bottom cooked and golden.

He barely had enough time to eat a wedge of his tortilla on a slice of bread (pintxo--typical sandwich in Basque country)  before it was time to leave with the group on another adventure, Kokomo Beach and concerts in the park.

Monday, July 9, 2018

2018 Week 27: Basking in Basque

Our activities this week revolved, for the most part, around events and activities on the Basque-month calendar.

Sunday evening the boys followed Esther, a neighbor friend who lives half a mile down the road, to swim in their pool along with the other Basque students.

Monday both Koch's Basque guests, Jon and Xabi, got to explore Dove's Crossing (Stephan and Karen's farm), tour the ice studio, and taste Stephan's cuisine.

Elijah is staying with us to be a friend to Jon this month, and Malachi and the younger ones are keeping Xabi entertained. My "Basque grandsons" taught me how to say it in euskera, their language--Nere illoba euskaldunak 

Elijah, Malachi, Xabi, Jon

Tuesday, we showed Jon how to make BLTs, took the boys for an afternoon of fun at the Splash House in Marion, and then to hear Dennis Quaid and the Sharks. An exciting day with no pics.

Wednesday, the boys joined Kristie's Fourth of July annual holiday family ruenion picnic.
Meanwhile we had friends over who live in Uganda and are visiting the US for the summer.

The Tuggys
The kids all enjoyed the zipline but I only watched the oldest take off.

Later in the day we joined Sam's family for the Muncie fireworks display. There was time for frisbee and fun in the park before dark.

Jude and Zion riding the buffalo

The local resident geese by the river watched us invade their park. I think the picnic experience was rather new and strange for our Basque boys. 

And the fireworks were probably nothing to write home about, considering that in their big city they have an annual week-long fireworks competition! Can't beat that. However, we later watched the video captured by the hovering drones, and that was more impressive.

Thursday started out slow and lazy. We watched a movie with Dennis Quaid in it--Soul Surfer, a very moving story. Jon had seen it twice before, but not in English. He's been to the famous international surfing competitions in his country, in Zarautz.

That evening the Koch men and boys went to and Indians game in Indy.

Right to Left: Mike, Sam, Elijah, Jon, Xabi, Stephan

Friday, Naroa's host family invited the kids to swim in their pool. They had to try out the trampoline first. Naroa (on right) is visiting Upland for the second time. Ainhoa on the left is the older college student or graduate who accompanied the group.

While they were having fun, we were enjoying food and fellowship at Ivanhoes with dear friends living now in the very town our illoba euskaldun (Basque grandson) is from.

The day was not over. Stephan and Karen came over because her parents wanted to try out the zipline! I went down for the first time also! Who said we were too old for such things?!

For Red, our consuegro  once was enough. Co-in-law (consuegra) Dolores was ready to go again!

Saturday, was the planned Koch-out, so as hosts we were focused on food prep and entertainment. I only got one picture of the kids enjoying the outdoors. Looks like their own variation of corn hole. We heard them ziplining, but didn't watch. We were engrossed in after-dinner conversation (sobremesa) with the adults.

"Our boys" spent the night at Sam and Kristie's. The end of a very full week.

In the midst of all that "basquing" we were able to keep up with our regular reponsabilities and routines. Amazing indeed!