Monday, February 25, 2019

More Layers

 Again on my walks I was drawn to the many-layered fungus on the old tree stumps which remind me of my life.

As I work to recover the lost chapter, improve the writing process, rearrange the text, search and research, I continually uncover and discover new or forgotten things from the past.
For example, I learned a lot about snails after reading about them in one of my father's letters.

 Several weeks ago after a rain we noticed that our patio was just covered with snails. We had known that we had snails, but we didn’t realize that they were as the sand of the sea. They are this oblong type of snail. Which one sees in the water, but they have a round shell. I called them wood snails when I saw that at home. We began asking our hired girl if there was some powder or liquid which we could buy to kill them. She didn’t know about that, but she thought she could get someone to gather them. In the afternoon a little boy came to gather them and was he ever tickled. He must have gotten about two or three quarts of them. Those slimy, squashy animals were just wallowing all over each other. I asked him what he was going to do with them. "Voy a comerlos." What? You’re going to eat those things? "Sí, son riquísimos." [they are delicious]. . . He was perfectly welcome to them. They serve them as a delicacy in the better hotels here.  I later learned that the owner of the house had brought those snails here to multiply for himself. [October 19, 1946]
I was as ignorant about the delectable escargot as my parents!

This week I also enjoyed listening to long-forgotten music, events, lectures, stories - all taken from obsolete cassettes and gathered as digitized files on one single DVD. Among the voices that stirred so many memories:

  • our young children in a Saturday morning program on the ship Doulos 
  • Mike and I mingling our own singing voices with all the others in a musical performed at Easter--Breakfast in Galilee
  • the Doulos Singers repertoire
  • Marion and Walter, our dear Austrian friends' songs
  • the Bus family songs  
  • my uncle, Dr. Herman A. Hoyt, giving a lecture--"Daniel and the 70 Weeks"
  • cousin, Dr. Fred de Rosset, being interviewed on Moody Radio for their Spanish program--"Imágenes de Cristo en la narrativa"

And there is much more to come.

Another rescued artifact is this 16mm film on a 3 1/2" reel. In one of those early letters my mother  listed the contents in detail. My parents were so eager to share with family all about their new life - the sights, sounds, people and places. And, of course, a large portion was two-year-old me running around, being cute.

February 21, Thursday, marked six years since Daddy's passing. Immersed as I am writing about that first year in Argentina, I chose a few photos from then that show him with me.
Rockefeller Center, New York, September 1945

Rita's conjunctivitis (1946)
On the back of the photograph in my mother's beautiful handwriting:
This is Rita when she had pink eye. We just took it as she was. Didn't even comb her hair. Notice the handful of rosebuds she had. That's her favorite task, picking flowers.
Dad and Mom's 4th anniversary cake (August 1946)
Vacation in Embalse del Río Tercero
Fast forward ninety years, I wrote a poem about those last moments with him:

Dear Daddy, 
You lingered long years and days waiting for the trumpet call.
Months back when I asked how you were, you could barely whisper
"I'm just waiting." Those were the last clear words I remember.
Your tired body did not hold out, your spirit eager to go.

Yesterday, I talked to you and touched your soft shoulder.
You shuttered and sputtered, breathing was not easy.
I started to sing. I needed to reach you somehow.
The 23rd Psalm came to me, oft sung to my children.

When I came to the shadow of death verse,
I sang loudly "I will fear no evil for Thou art with me."
And again at the end, "I will dwell in the house of the Lord,
forever, forever, in the house of the Lord forever. Amen."

"Lord, take him home," I prayed in my heart. And He did!
Your passing was so gentle, almost imperceptible.
Mother said, "You put him to sleep."
We hugged and cried, so grateful to be there, so sad to be left.

¡Hasta pronto, papá! See you soon, Daddy!

February 22, 2013

A noteworthy event this week was Bag Day--the deadline for wrapping up the robot. There is a mad push in the last week to make sure every aspect comes together and works, so Michael was gone most days till late.  
Here is a video of the final tests before the bagging--

Son Sam is looking on. He was in attendance as one of the parents. Elijah is on the team this year.

At home, my focus is to write, and a diversion is to do art. I am joined once a week by a couple others and we attempt to follow online tutorials on Let's Make Art Together.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Life Layers

On one of my walks this week I spotted a small tree stump overgrown with fungus. It reminded me of my many layered life story. 

Though I am currently focused on writing about my early childhood, I come across memories (artifacts, photos, documents, letters) from one of the many other periods of life.

Digging through files I discovered this layered family schedule--all six of us living under the same roof and each going in a different direction. Michael's 40-hour week schedule was not listed, nor baby Kayla's. We're guessing it was 1992 or '93. How did we survive those crazy days?
Some interesting comments and memories are trickling in on the family Facebook page. 

I came across a photo that reminded me of what I recently read in those early letters when my parents were setting up housekeeping in Argentina.

Last Tuesday the 9th [April 9, 1946] our expensive washing machine came. It is a beauty and we believe we are going to like it very much, but right now there is some defect with the roller gears. The bowl or tub is a green and white mixture. All the other parts are white. Kathryn said she surely didn't want green, but she likes this very much. We have washed with it once and it seems to clean the clothes well. We already had two large tubs for rinsing and so I made two small benches for them. They will be on castors, so it will be handy for her to handle. We also bought a rubber tube to run the hot water into the tubs. right now we are washing in the bathroom because there is a mechanism there for heating the water. It operates like a gasoline stove and heats the water as it runs through a coil. It has no storage tank, but it heats as you draw the water. I imagine you wonder if we can get the water hot enough. Yes, I got it almost too hot last time. We hope however to get a storage tank, sometime, so that we can have hot water for other purposes.
I have memories of helping occasionally with the complicated multi-step process. From my current perspective, I almost wonder whether washing by hand would not have been simpler. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to wash sheets or jeans by hand.

We listen to the Daily Audio Bible Chronological as we eat breakfast. Repeatedly this week I heard, "The Lord said to Moses." And then I could see my two-year old self in an anecdote from the ancient letters.
The other evening we were getting Rita ready to go to the evening service and out of the silence, she spoke up and said, “And the Lord spake unto Moses”. We certainly had to laugh. We didn’t think she was getting anything out of our devotions in the mornings from the Pentateuch, but apparently she had. She also says the word, tabernacle, once in a while around the house. (July 23, 1946)

Moving on to another era, our life on the M/V Doulos in the early 1980's. 
Eduardo from Uruguay, one of our shipmates at the time, wrote about a vivid dream he had, and he mentions me among the few he remembers. Read about it in Servants at Sea, if you can read Spanish, or translate it-- el Doulos en marcha otra vez? (Doulos sailing again?)
Coincidentally, also this week, a photo surfaced from those Doulos days. Our children have such fond memories of their five years onboard.

Doulos children on deck
Valentine's Day had us reminiscing about our love journey of over 50 years--two years of correspondence, 49 of marriage. 
However, the story that blessed us in a special way that day was of a dear couple in our community, also in my writers' critique group--T.R. and Angie Knight. I encourage you to read the blog post and listen to the podcast linked at the very end--Knight Rider--a tale of true love. You will be blessed!

The salient events of the week:

There were multiple accidents due to hazardous weather conditions. Among them was our 21-year-old grandson Skye on his way to work in Fort Wayne early Monday morning. To avoid a truck he was forced off the road, hit from the side or behind, spun around, totalled the car, but gratefully no one was hurt!

That same night, we warned Moriah that our lane and driveway were impassable and she should spend the night on campus. She told us the next day that even walking from the Science building to the dorm was tricky and treacherous.

Michael spent many long days at Madjax as the deadline to pack up the robot fast approaches. Next Tuesday is Bag Day.
I could watch him walking to and fro in the mechanical room, furthering the process of finishing, fixing, fine-tuning the robot they designed, all the while trying to teach and guide young students.
I have trouble recognizing others with this particular live stream camera view. What is the tell-tale feature that allows me to spot Michael?

Saturday, I had a new experience--I joined a group of friends that like to hike/walk/bike. I was slightly outnumbered, they were all men, ha! We walked the Taylor Cross Country course and enjoyed conversation.

  What adventures await in this eighth week of 2019?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Writer's Woes

 My intention of being very productive this week was shattered when the chapter I had been working on for two weeks or more, just simply disappeared. Two other open documents were left, but not the one in which I had invested so many tedious hours of work. That is probably a writer's worst nightmare. How it happened is still a mystery. Is it really possible that I  did not save it even once?
Experts have searched the hidden recesses and inner workings of the wordprocessing program I was using, and nada!

That is when I took comfort and courage from the words Moriah (our resident student) recently painted and placed strategically on her door as a daily  reminder of God's presence and promise.

That was Tuesday.
Wednesday I travelled the hour and half to visit Mother. I arrived five minutes late to accompany her to the dermatologist for biopsies. I set out on my own to find the place, but was given the wrong address. Next I had trouble finding the new office. The receptionist led me to a room and knocked. The door opened, startled I said, "That's not my mother." Oops! Next door. There she was, as brave and cheery as ever.

Things improved after that. We face-timed with brother Ivan in Las Vegas; got a glimpse of three of his little grands jumping around and being silly, and even caught sight of niece Tina. I entertained the ladies at our table in the dining room playing oldies music. We visited the Art studio to see what Mother had been working on. We played Bingo with the old folks.

But the best part, apart from being with Mother, was visiting Aunt Margaret, also 97.

Margaret Marshall and Kathryn Hoyt
 Margaret and Jim moved in next door to us in La Carlota when I was five or six years old. She has graciously allowed me access to all their weekly letters written during the time they served in Argentina.
Discouraged about the writing progress, I tackled the daunting task of sorting the hundreds of epistles into years. These will eventually make their way to the archives of the Grace Brethren institutions. I enjoyed reading snippets as I worked on them. Some of these fascinating stories will surely be included in my book.

1957 Marshall letters

Thursday evening a few homes in our neck of the woods suffered a power outage for several hours. The strong wind brought down a tree that blew the transformer on the corner of our land.
I experienced the extreme limitations of living without electricity in this day and age. 

There is not much you can do by candlelight. I read some, then attempted a few lessons from the cool drawing book.

Michael started the generator as soon as he got home from robotics after 11 PM. Had I been desperate enough I could have attempted the task. Maybe I was having too much fun.

The memorable event of the week was daughter Leah's 46th birthday. Friday evening we had a mini-celebration at Ivanhoe's, the local ice cream shop. Family times are fun!

Earlier in the week I scanned all the photos accumulated over time in the Leah box and then gave her all the hard copies. 
Here are a couple of early memories. We were in Germany at the time we decided to pursue adoption. Finally, when she was already five months-old, Manuela joined our family and became Leah Margit. 

How was your week? Have you ever lost a major project or had your plans disrupted?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Age Two

The new focus of this blog is meant to record my writing process and progress, hoping you will keep me accountable and give me feedback, advice, and encouragement. Ever since I courageously announced that I am writing a book, the response has been surprisingly positive and that keeps me going.
This week God used another means to strengthen my resolve--the weather! We had the bitterest cold temperatures yet. Schools were closed, even Taylor University cancelled classes for two days. I gladly stayed in and had long productive days learning what it takes to be a full-time writer.

 I am writing about that first year in Argentina, 1946. It is tedious work. I read through eight months-worth of weekly letters, researched the background, pulled out pertinent quotes, and attempted to string together a coherent narrative.
I discovered photos that fit perfectly with the dates and events mentioned in the letters and also help to fill in details about the surroundings.
Notice the high walls around our patio - extreme privacy. That was a good thing for me. One day my mother came out and found that I had removed all my clothes except one shoe and one sock. (Perhaps I should not include that photo.)

It was a lovely back yard with abundant flowers, a couple pomegranate trees, a palm tree. One area of the garden was sectioned off with pointed bricks, like so: ^^^^^^^ (you can see them in the background of the photos). These proved to be dangerous for a little two-year-old running after her little chicks. She tripped and fell on one. The gash in her forehead bled profusely. The young parents rushed her to the doctor whose office was attached to the front of the house. How convenient.

For my second birthday Daddy made me a clever desk that could become a chalk board. I don't know what happened to the desk, but the little bench followed us around through the years. Looks like my mother was trying to teach me to print my name.  

Dad made all my toys. I do remember the little red wagon full of blocks seen in this photograph with Margarita, the fourteen-year-old girl who helped my mother both with housework and language practice. The letters tell me that I jabbered on and on with her, but was it Spanish?

I write to explore, discover and connect--discover who I was and connect the different periods that make me who I am.
Madeleine L’Engle said, “I am not an isolated, chronological numerical statistic. I am sixty-one, and I am also four, and twelve, and fifteen, and twenty-three, and thirty-one and forty-five and … and… and… If we lose any part of ourselves, we are thereby diminished. If I cannot be thirteen and sixty-one simultaneously, part of me has been taken away.”

From the letters, I compiled all the anecdotes about my two-year-old self. Clearly I was exhibiting terrible twos' stubborness. Hopefully I have outgrown the negative behaviors.

I try to recognize characteristics that are constant that make me who I am today. I liked words, picked up language easily, enjoyed books (when I wasn't tearing them up!), had a happy disposition (unless I didn't get my way). 

The numerous stories were intended to help faraway grandparents watch their precious grandchild grow. Nowadays we can see and even talk to our loved ones almost instantaneously over the internet no matter how long the distances may be. On the other hand, how many of those words will be recorded for posterity like mine were?
My current quandary as I write is: which scenes, how many and in what way can I weave them into the narrative. Someone suggested an entire chapter could be dedicated to portraying little Rita, age two.

Enough about me. There was a very interesting paragraph about Mother. Dad wrote in October, 1946:
Kathryn has been doing a lot of oil painting lately. She doesn't say much, but I can tell she would rather do that than most other things around the house. She is making many things such as trees, bushes, walls, and so forth for use on the flannel-graph.

All this is especially meaningful to us now as Mother at age 97 is now once again creating beautiful art. Her activities are very limited. She is in a wheel chair and has lost the use of her voice due to a paralyzed vocal chord. She has slowed down enough to do art again!

That August Mother had asked her parents to purchase two boxes of crayons.  In making backgrounds for flannelboard I use Binney & Smith Crayolas and my box is almost gone. I can't get them here.
I googled those names I had never heard before, and learned the interesting history of the cousins who developed colorful oily chalk. One of the wives came up with the name from two French words - chalk (craie) and oily (oleaginous), thus crayola.

Dad wrote about having a brief case made by the valijero (the suitcase man). It is made excellently--all by hand, with the greatest of care. Cost me 38 pesos, or $9.50. Now I'm glad i didn't get one in the States. Grande, whew! it will hold my whole library. The length and breadth of the thing are the same as the usual brief case, but it is the spread.

I asked my brother to send me a picture of the briefcase that has followed Mother around containing all the important documents. Could this really be the same one, 73 years old by now?

Now, about memorable moments of the week:

Wednesday, on the bitterest dangerously cold afternoon, Cleo was put to rest and buried out in our woodsy pet cemetery.

Saying goodbye to an old friend, age 11

Thursday, was our 49th anniversary. Facebook was one of the first to greet us with a video which I shared. To this day, friends are reacting and commenting; wonderful greetings keep coming in. Interestingly, two of the friends (a mother and son) remembered us living with them in Nurnberg, Germany, when we arrived from our honeymoon. I will have fun researching that historic city when I get to that chapter.

What fun research and discoveries await me this week?