Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Friends, Family, Food and more

Rebecca and I picked these flowers on our walk. Yes, it was a week highlighted by visits and sleepovers of two grands and a great!

Many memories surfaced this week as well including many photos of our several trips to the Basque Country which always took place around this time of year. The last visit was five years ago already!
It's been that long almost since we really spent time with our main fellow-travellers--Dane and Laurie. We rememdied that, however, with a meal at our house Sunday evening and an outing Wednesday for dinner and a movie--Aladdin, quite a fantastical production! 

Michael likes to cook and he goes all out. Then we enjoy leftovers all week. I have only one photo--the delicious vidalia onion corn bread. I usually make the salads.

Stephan's Monday dinners feature something special every week and quite often we are the only guests. This time Malachi and Lexi came first and then Sam and Kristie and their other three boys. The sobremesa (after-dinner conversation) was so much fun. We heard about: 
--Sam's family's vacation in Florida, 
--Stephan and Karen's week away  at her parents in Evansville with a niece and nephew, and 
--Malachi's internship working with youth at his church, and Lexi's job and involvement with a SERVE project.

Other memories came from reading my parents' journal from 20+ years ago when they were about our age now. There are many references to the practical ways they were preparing the new meeting place of their congregation--refurbishing a pulpit, painting, plastering, cleaning, and on and on for months. Then June 16, 1996 was the first service in the new building. This hands-on involvement in the building and upkeep of places of worship, characterizes Dad and Mother's entire life.

Friday I needed to attend the quarterly Care Plan Conference for Mother at Grace Village. The plan was to take Rebecca. I remember taking Kayla, her mother, when she was about the same age to visit Grandpa and Grandma Hoyt in Winona Lake. I remember her enjoying the swing they had hung from a big tree in the front. I was in my early 50's then. This time I had Michael's help on the adventure. At the last minute he was able to come along. We had a great time with our great granddaughter and she with her great great grandma! Rebecca showed her all her little ponies, demonstrated her ballet routine (using the proper French names for the steps!), and insisted on pushing the wheelchair everywhere! 

It's been a year now since Mother lost her voice and I noticed this time that it is worse, not even a raspy whisper. Insterestingly, she and Rebecca played with her talking machine. Mother would type a sentence and the machine spoke for her. Then Rebecca typed in something, and it repeated the letters!

The grandsons were waiting at our house as soon as we arrived back home. The two younger ones spent the night so Sam and Kristie could get away to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

We had such a good time together with these bright and lively youngsters. 
Jude asked for a piano lesson. I started him by placing his five fingers on the keys from C to G trying to play each individually, i.e. play the do re mi fa sol scale. At first it was difficult to curve the fingers, isolate each sound, keep the fingering. But before long he got it! Listen here:
Jude's first piano lesson

We stayed up a bit late enjoying an old classic--Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Next morning, Chef Zion cooked breakfast--eggs the way they like them!

Then he taught me a new game - Wits and Wagers.

My friend Georgia was selling her beautifully painted shells at a large craft fair in a neighboring town. I took the boys, gave them some money to spend and let them check out the 100+ vendors. They came back with a balloon snake, a crocheted Pokaball, fluorite rocks, and a robot face-paint.

Meanwhile, Michael was riding with the Delaware Cycling Club for the first time since his surgery five years ago! 56 miles and no pain!!!

Robotics-related activities keep him occupied. He is at the shop to help the student interns hired by Dannar this summer whenever they need to use the team equipment. And on Wednesday PhyXTGears put on a presentation for 60 middle school and high school age girls. It went very well. Hopefully some of them will join the team.

We had our last Art Club for the summer and tried a whimsical Geometric Landscape tutorial. And Tuesday, on my own I tried the Floral Hand live tutorial. It's a fun time for me to learn more about water color techniques while Michael is at the weekly team meeting.

Do you have any artistic, creative, recreational activity? 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A Memorable Mix

Memories surfaced throughout the week. Our Bible Study Home Group hostess brought out a smoked pot Michael had made years ago, a reminder of the many Klaytivity uniquely thrown pieces he's made. In fact that same afternoon I gave away one of the remaining beauties at a bridal shower.

Good friend Gina was visiting from Mississippi! She used to be a regular at Stephan's Monday dinner before she moved far away. So many good memories and a lot of catching up.

That same day, June 10, marked eight years from the day our house burnt down. Gina was among the first friends who came to our rescue.

Our daughter took this photo the days following as we trudged through the muck salvaging whatever we could. It spoke of hope in the midst of chaos and destruction.

We felt truly blessed to watch how God cared for us through the recovery and rebuilding process. Exactly a year later we had an open house to share what He had done and dedicate our new house to God.
Son Stephan catered the event and made an amazing and meaningful ice sculpture--a phoenix rising out of the flames!

A mostly forgotten event surfaced as I was reading my parents' 1996 journal: "It will be 2 years in June that he [Dad] had his heart attack." He would have been 73 at the time. Perhaps that is why it was important for me to have a stress test. Thankfully all is well.

It was also in June, a year ago, that Mother lost the use of her voice due to a paralyzed vocal cord.

Thursday at 2:40 AM my phone rang and the screen showed caller Kathryn Hoyt. I could not make out any of what she was trying to tell me, but, of course, I understood that she was distressed. In the morning the night nurse, who had been by her side for a couple hours (ah, that's why she didn't answer my phone calls!), said Mother was hallucinating.
I canceled art club and drove up to see her. She was able to share the scary scenarios either in writing or mouthing. The images and voices were so real to her. By the end of the visit she was calmer and tired and understood that what she was experiencing was not real. She slept well that night. Her lingering fear that she was going "crazy" was dispelled with the lab results which revealed very elevated thyroid levels which can cause paranoia and hallucinations. When Rachel, the nurses' manager, explained this to her, Mother was visibly pleased and relieved! Hopefully the new dosage of thyroid meds will help. There have been no further incidents.

Rachel doing a blood draw
That very day was Writers' Day in Argentina. I read a few notes posted by a successful author I met long ago, "I celebrate the birds in my head. HAPPY WRITERS' DAY!" Another author's note referred to her calling as the profession of a lier. 

My fiction-writer friends amaze me with their prolific imaginations. I, however, lacking that gift, am bound to the facts as I reconstruct my early childhood. The letters my parents wrote in 1946 lay open on my desk for weeks, even months, as I pull out nuggets and paragraphs to include in my story. The photo albums are also readily available to illustrate the events I write about. 
I wrapped up another chapter this week about all the celebrations and festivities of that first year in Argentina, ending with a simple and lonely Christmas. I awoke that day to find a small tree, a doll Daddy had been saving for me, and a wicker rocking chair. I was very pleased.

We were so happy this week to get our reupholstered sectional back! Quite a contrast! Does it take so much more to make us comfortable in our old age?

I found an old photo with Daddy for my Father's Day profile pic. If we didn't know any better, it sure appears like I am looking at a cell phone!  Michael's response, "Some things never change."

Rebecca had a lovely Father's Day surprise--she got her Daddy back for the weekend! Matt has been on a job in New Jersey for over a month now. His birthday was June 10th. Over the years we've missed celebrating together--once it coincided with our house fire, a few other times we were traveling in the Basque Country. This time he was gone.

Rebecca had just had her face painted at the first farmer's market of the season. We love our town events. The weather was perfect. We joined Kayla and Rebecca at a picnic table and ate fish and chips from Payne's new truck. Yummmm!

Was your week a mix of memories and memorable events?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

June Joys

The last peonies still waft their fragrance and make me very happy.

Stephan and Karen's nineteen-year-long marriage warms my heart. Monday, June 3, was their anniversary.

We were there for Monday Night Dinner, and came back again Friday to enjoy the pool. 
It happened to be National Donut Day. Some felt compelled to partake.

We also enjoyed a couple tandem rides, 14 and 18 miles, and always the destination is a restaurant. It seems we only allow ourselves to eat out if we've earned it!
We were glad to see farmers out in their fields finally after the long rainy season.
Gardening sessions began in earnest for me as well.

The focus of this blog is supposed to be memories surrounding my current writing project. I made some small progress on the chapter about the fiestas, holidays and celebrations in the new country--several religious and pagan festivals, and family events. The latest one was my parents' fourth wedding anniversary--the first in Argentina. They were twenty-five years-old. Mother baked a special cake and tried on her wedding dress again.

Interestingly, that wedding dress reappeared a couple years ago when we were moving Mother from her Independent Living apartment to Assisted Living. A shoe box tumbled down from a closet shelf. "That's my wedding dress," she said. Sure enough, permanently wrinkled from years of scrunching, it now decorates a corner of my home.

Our weekends are full, on a regular basis, such that processing the week and its memories takes me a few days into the next before I can publish the blog post.
This was certainly no exception. I don't know how we were able to fit in a visit to one of our town's favorite events--the Strawberry Festival. But we did, and were so happy to meet up with daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter! And, of course, we had to savor the main feature, a strawberry shortcake!

Probably the biggest focus of the week was to prepare for the robotics team social, famously called the "Kochout," even though lately we've tried to avoid the grilling hassle by having a potato bar  and ice cream bar where everyone brings the toppings.

The weather was perfect and the kids were able to enjoy the zip-line. Michael had just finished repairing all the damage to the line and our deck caused by a very strong winter windstorm.

Surprisingly, however, everyone spent most of the time indoors playing a variety of table games.

Sam's family left that day for a week's vacation in Florida. Looks like they are having a wonderful time.

A very meaningful photo appeared on Facebok of a reunion of old friends this week out in California.
Each one of these dear friends had a significant impact on us at different stages of our lives. They range in age from mid-seventy to ninety-two.

Victor (far left), was in Spain around the time I was there (1966-1967). Although we were on different teams, our paths crossed on different occasions. He worked in Gerona, Spain for many years.
Greg and Sally Livingstone, very early OM'ers who later founded another very far reaching mission, were influential in our initial courtship and marriage by their counsel and example. You can read a brief bio here  and a brief account of his beginnings here. Their fascinating story is told in his memoir You've Got Libya.   
Margit McRostie, was married to Jonathan, leader of the European headquarters for OM (Operation Mobilization. Michael was his assistant in those early days in 1965-66 helping set up conference facilities for the summer crusade in Belgium and for the year-long in England. This was before Jonathan and Margit were married. Interestingly both Jonathan and Mike had their eye on this cute little German girl! Jonathan won. They made a wonderful contribution to God's Kingdom throughout their life together until he passed away in 2011. In 1982 he suffered a serious accident which left him paralyzed physically but that did not lessen his evangelistic zeal and outreach. You can read George Verwer's Tribute.
Dale and Elaine Rhoton, were our leaders when we joined their team in Austria that smuggled Bibles and books into communist Europe. In fact we were engaged that first summer in Vienna. After we were married, we lived in Germany still working with the same group. On one occasion when Dale, our leader was coming through, we had just felt strongly compelled to pursue adoption for our second child, our first was by then two years old. He strongly encouraged us and told us the story of another admired leader on OM. That was the beginning of Leah's adoption process.
Later, when we joined the M/V Doulos with our three children, again Dale and Elaine were there. In fact I had a Spanish conversation class with their thirteen-year-old son.
I should mention also that Elaine's journey as an author inspires me. She wrote the stories of two of OM's ships, the Logos and the Doulos. They have been through several editions and translations.
To watch Dale speak go here.
Ray Lentzch, seated, just turned 92 on June 5. Perhaps that was the occasion for this memorable reunion. Ray's one dream was to preach the gospel in every nation. He tells of his adventures in 217 countries in his memoir His Last Command - My One Desire. He was also on the ship when we were there. He used to borrow our crockpot so he could have a meal after a day of street preaching. And every time he returned it with goodies for the kids. They looked forward to Uncle Ray's treats.

This one photo brings back memories that each deserve their own chapter.
Who are the heroes or mentors in your life?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Mini Vacations

A week of many outings. . .
Memorial Day we walked the many aisles of the Shipshewana flea market. It was a beauiful sunny day. We enjoyed it with Diane.

A lovely bouquet of peonies welcomed us when we arrived back home. It took me all week to figure out who had left them. Thank you, Petey!

 Tuesday I met with another good friend to celebrate her 81 years, still looking lovely.

Meanwhile, Michael, Team 1720 and friends were celebrating an open house for the only graduate this year.


Wednesday was our last tap class until we resume in August. Rebecca entertained herself by building and decorating her little corner. We rehearsed and recorded several routines, so that, hopefully, we can practice some during the summer.

Thursday, we'd talked about going out on the tandem after I got back from exercise class, but a sudden hail storm foiled our plans.

Friday, a friend and I were going to visit Mother during ArtCare hours, however she had scheduling conflicts, and Michael happily joined in. We had a delightful time coloring alongside the elderly residents, and after were served a good and abundant meal in the Quiet Room next door. We hadn't known about that availability before.

The art teacher pointed out several of Mother's recent paintings that I had not seen yet. Here are three of the five.

It was another bright and sunny day so we took Mother outside to see all the lovely flowers and sit in the gazebo for a bit while we talked to Ivan out in Vegas.
Next we drove to Middlebury in Amish Country and strolled the streets and shops.

Saturday, I rose early to keep my paid-for commitment to run the National Trails Day 5K in Muncie.
I was happy to meet two people I knew, younger-than-me, obviously. We each won first place in our age/gender cateogory!

That afternoon, Michael had another outing planned, this time to a typical MidWest town festival--Dunkirk Glass Days. We watched glass ornaments in the making, listened to country music, shared an ice cream cone, and simply enjoyed being together.

Definitely a week of memory-making, rather than exploring memories from the past. However, all the travel time together allowed us to read or listen to a couple books that impacted our thinking. I've  often heard that reading is essential to becoming a good writer. So, perhaps it was not a lost week.