Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Fall Firsts

Even before the official beginning of fall, the season's programs began--tap, ladies Bible study groups, Basics Jr., Writers' Bloc, MOPS, etc.

Monarchs and More!
However, summer warmth lingered so we went to Stephan and Karen's prepared to get in the pool. The water temperature was below our old-folk comfort, but we enjoyed sitting on the edge and dipping our toes in. We then persuaded Stephan to bring dinner outside. What a lovely evening and delectable meal!

Tuesday morning we were up early enough so we listened to the first promo spot about FIRST robotics on a local radio station. Technology allows you to listen to it even yet, a week later (click on the caption below).

Shawn VanNess on WBAT
As a result, that very day, an Ivy Tech administrator stopped by the shop, where Michael has been working almost non-stop all week, and showed great interest in supporting robotics teams.

Our little group of mature women, the Dancin' Divas (smile) met again after a three-month summer hiatus. Hopefully muscle-memory will come back. I realized, though, that I cannot do all the accompanying arm motions yet.

Had to go out after class and admire Kayla's new-to-her car! She loves it!

That evening Moriah and I went together to the training session for all volunteers working with Basics (3rd-6th grade) and Basics Jr. (4 years-2nd grade)--a high energy community Bible club. We will both be helping with the younger ones this school year.

Now that I am driving again I have to be so much more intentional to fit walking into my schedule. Thursday Moriah babysat for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). I caught a ride with her part way so I'd have to walk home. Again I explored another pathway through the Taylor campus. Intrigued by the messages of the art I encountered on the way, I took pictures and asked Moriah what they meant. It has to do with traditions of a certain dorm floor, a unique subculture with its own initiation rites.

Midday I left for Mother's quarterly Care Plan Conference. There is some noticeable and gradual decline, however she is remarkably content for her age and limitations--she can't walk or talk, experiences recurring back pain, and has a couple of spots (skin cancers) that refuse to heal, but loves to do art.
We went to the monthly Bingo Store where she allowed me to redeem 200 Bingo dollars on anything I wanted. I came away with two bags full of loot. Then we visited her dear friend, Margaret.

With Margaret; reading the article about the robotics team; bouquet and Bingo loot
Another first this week was Elijah's marching band performance. Actually it is a first for Delta High School as well.

Trumpeter Elijah at 30"

 Friday I was privileged to spend the night with the three remaining grandsons at home. Malachi came home from college Saturday to stay that night until mom and dad return from their birthday-celebration (Kristie's 41st) weekend getaway.

My visit coincided with the arrival of the monthly Kiwi crate with hands-on projects for each of them. This perfect timing allowed me to see how they respond and what they do. There's no time wasted. They unpack the boxes and attack the challenge immediately without stopping until it is done.

Zion's was a science project called Buzzing Circuits that explores: switches in circuits; alarms in history; telegraphs & Morse Code.
Jude's was an arts project about Music Machines: playing music; musical instruments; and the science of sound.  

We also put together a couple puzzles and watched a season of Ultimate Beast Masters. Enough fun for one day.

Oh, and I also picked up Elijah from soccer practice, took a wrong turn in the process, made him wait. How he wishes he could drive! Alas, he has to wait a couple more years. Ughh!

Saturday, after dropping Elijah off for his soccer game, the younger boys and I went to the Orchid Greenhouse at Ball State University to learn about monarch butterflies. (Click on the link in the photo at the top for information about the event.) There were four learning stations including crafts and videos. We each made our own caterpillar. The boys gave theirs funny names: doggerpillar and French. I think Jude's was inspired by the Hank the Cowdog story we'd been listening to in the car.

Interestingly, while there I noticed an artist display by an acquaintance of mine and recognized one of her watercolors (on the right) where she replicated a friend's photo of a white owl.

We explored the entire greenhouse discovering and admiring the great variety of orchids. I asked the boys to pick a favorite spot for a photo. They chose the little pond with turtles, koi and gold fish.

After leaving the boys, on the way home, I stopped at the old building in Matthews in the process of becoming the new headquarters of Team 1720. Michael was not there then, but I did see the scissors lift that he spends most of his time on as he works on repairing and painting the ceiling. And I was gratefully surprised to see a friend of ours helping out a couple of the mentors with charting the electric circuit chaos of the many lifetimes of the building. Thank you, Frank!

And a big shout out to the Anderson Team 447 Roboto for their help all day moving load after load of equipment from Madjax to Matthews--four trailers, two pickups and cars x two trips each, at least!

How have you been blessed this week?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

September slipping by

 Since I began driving again I haven't walked as much. I miss that. I have also really missed watercolor sessions, with friends or even on my own. On one of those long walks weeks ago I picked up a beautiful luna moth (dead, of course) and determined to follow a tutorial I had seen to paint one.
Weeks went by, the poor moth was falling apart, the outline was sitting there, even a jar of water and the brushes. Still I couldn't find or make the time. Finally this weekend it happened.

 So, what fills my time? Most people are happy to see that my arms are free, no sling or cast, and so they assume I am all better. However, I am still working on gaining back pain-free full mobility with the left arm. It takes time to go to physical therapy twice a week and do the exercises every day. This week I was especially discouraged as there seemed to be little progress. A friend offered me a massage which loosened up some of the tight muscles. I am more encouraged now.

An article came out in the local paper that explains a little what Michael has been up to every day. Cleaning, fixing up, and outfitting the old warehouse, new home of the PhyXTGears, requires a huge amount of work. The goal is to have it ready for an Open House the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
A couple of friends have given of their time to work with him.
I am very happy that this robotics team headquarters is only 10 or 12 minutes from our home. I enjoy being able to take him a lunch and observe the daily progress.

Diane's 66th birthday was Wednesday (9/11). She has come to really look forward to and even expect the annual getaway, a "tradition" begun last year when I took her to Amish Acres.
This year we went to Shipshewana--the Blue Gate Classic package--inn, restaurant, and theatre.
"I really liked that," was her most repeated phrase as she commented about each and every experience.
Notice her "knight in shining armour" She can't decide which ride she prefers.
She was enthralled by the walls and walls covered with photos of country singers and performers.

Ah, the Amish covered buggy was the best. 

So many photo opportunities
Michael took off all day Saturday to enjoy a long ride with his bicycling buddies. The beautiful weather won't last long.

Kristie had been training for a mini marathon and amazed herself:
"I ran my first #halfmarathon in 9.5 years! My time wasn’t what I had hoped for (1 hour 55 minutes and some seconds?). I hoped to do it in 1:53 or less. But I started WAY too fast and ran the first mile in under 7 minutes. I reminded myself that I need to run my race, not theirs. So I fell back, but still kept an 8 minute mile for half the race... then at 9 miles the lactic acid began to turn my legs into steel beams. I hit a hard wall at mile 10 and prayed and willed myself not to walk. I didn’t, praise God! Somehow I got 2nd overall! I was shocked... there wasn’t much competition. Except - The winner was in her 20s and was phenomenal! I am grateful God has given my body the ability to do this again at my age. In a couple days I turn 41!"

Today as I write this it is her birthday! We are so grateful for you, Kristie, and for the health that has been restored to you after many years of struggle.

The book I am working on is a neglected area in my life lately. That has to change if I ever want to be a "finisher."

Do you have an unfinished project that calls to you incessantly?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Festivals and Moves

Labor Day weekend is the big Upland festival--yard sales all over town, music and food at the Lion's Park culminating with fireworks Sunday night, and a parade on Monday.

My best yard sale purchase was this Mancala game that sits on our big counter and leads to competitive rounds among the three housemates. Moriah, the young college student has the most wins.

The parade is a big deal in this small town. As the memories of years past surfaced on Facebook, I was reminded of the variety of ways we have taken part and enjoyed this Upland tradition. When we had horses Michael and different family members entered them. Some rode bicycles another year and Michael joined on his Segway once. There was a time when the skateboarders from Sam's shop were a favorite feature.

Rebecca's first Labor Day parade
Our youngest family member, Rebecca didn't always enjoy the experience. Last year she hid in the house and watched through the window. However, this year she and I were in the Basics Jr. [a high-energy Bible club geared especially for younger kids 4 year-2nd grade] section. She rode in the truck and I walked/jogged behind handing out leaflets and candy. Moriah and I are both volunteer helpers in Basics Jr. this year.

The family tends to congregate in front of Leah's house to watch the event. When Rebecca and I came after the parade we found that Sam and the boys had joined the fun. Matt and Kayla had their honey sale going.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned the possibility of big changes coming for the robotics team. I can now announce officially that they are moving out of Madjax and into an old building that has had many lives in its 100+ years of existence. More recently it was a used auto shop. We walked through last week assessing the needs and potential. A huge amount of work will go into getting set up to begin building a robot in the new year.
My two favorite features--door and chandelier--so very out of place in the old dusty crusty warehouse. 

Back and front of Blue Dutch Auto
Hopefully, the move will draw in students from a broader area. To advertise the newly named East Central Indiana Robotics, the guys took advantage of the Matthews Covered Bridge festival, September 6-8, and set up a display with a few robots on Main St. in front of the building. They talked for hours with passersby and handed out brochures.

We had planned to go to Winona Lake Friday afternoon, visit with Mother and attend a Josh Garrels concert at Grace. Instead, I drove up to see Mother alone and met with a representative from a company that offers hospice services. My brother Alan and I listened to a lot of information and signed many papers. Later that evening a nurse came, checked her vitals, read all the charts and consulted with the agency's doctor who determined that Mother does not qualify for their services at this time .
"So, Mother, you are too well. You'll likely live to be 100!" She just smiled.

At the concert I met up with Sam and Kristie, the boys, and Lexi (Malachi's fiancé). Josh's music is a family favorite. We have known the Garrels for many years and watched their family grow. When the crowd was begging for an encore, I went outside the tent to talk to Michelle. Just then he ended with a song he wrote for his wife, and I took her picture as he was singing about how beautiful she is.

We are so blessed to know wonderful people from all over the world. This week we were privileged to visit with Andi and Sheba Eicher from India. They brought their daughter Asha here, a fifth generation Eicher to attend Taylor University. Of course, there was the obligatory Ivanhoe's stop.

Another exciting week that took longer to process than I had hoped. I am reminded that my body is still healing from the accident in June and that slows me down. 
I suspect none of you accomplished everything you wish you had in one week. True?

Thursday, September 5, 2019

August goes out with a bang!

August sticker art 
Michael scheduled one more two-day summer getaway, this time to Nashville, TN. It was a special time and I felt truly cherished.

When we arrived, we set out to explore the various areas of the Opryland Hotel including the two-acre tropical forest.
View of the Cascade courtyard--day and night.
There is no way to do justice to the beauty and variety of this paradise. These are but a few samples.

The Creator's designs and handiwork are amazing!

The calming sound of cascading water surrounded us.

The second day we took in two iconic parks in the city: the Centennial and the Bicentennial.
In the first park we visited the full-scale replica of the Parthenon built for the 1897 Centennial Expositions to represent Nashville's reputation as the "Athens of the South." There is an enormous statue of Athena as well as a museum and art collections.

The Bicentennial Capitol Mall park is in the vicinity of the State Capitol and has a fascinating Pathway of History--granite blocks engraved with the outstanding facets about the state until the celebration of 200 years, June 1, 1996. I think I read the entire nearly mile long wall out loud to Michael!

 The park includes much of interest--a World War II Memorial, a 95-Bell Carillon and more.
Views of the floating granite globe to represent my two countries - USA and Argentina
Our friends, the Helyers, who live in the area now, recommended these sites and more, and then invited us to meet with them. We had a wonderful visit. Regrettably, I forgot to take a picture.

On road trips, I  read aloud to Michael. This time the chosen book was Robert Seelye's autobiography. We were so very inspired and excited about his story and as we shared with our friends (Larry and Joyce Helyer also from California) we found out that they knew him and many of the people and places he mentioned!

Shortly after we arrived home on Thursday, I drove to Winona Lake to join Mother for the annual Health Care Summer Picnic. First time at the wheel since the fall in June!
It was a lovely sunny day. Family and friends gathered with their loved ones. The brightly decorated tables in the courtyard overflowed with food and cheer. A harpist played lovely tunes.

Sadly though, Mother just wasn't feeling well. I soon took her in and she lay down. A chest Xray the next day showed a higher level of congestive heart failure.

A year ago she was the Artist of the Month. We've noticed a gradual but steady decline since then.

Friday, the 30th, Leah and Jimmy celebrated 20 years together.

We took Stephan and Karen to an Indians game in Indianapolis. We each won an item commemorating 30 years since the 1989 championship. Karen likes her bobblehead. I don't know what to do with the poster. However, I learned a lot about baseball so I can watch games more intelligently.

The evening ended with fun fireworks despite the team loss.

Saturday Michael rode again with the group of friends from Muncie. They encountered a few perils on the 62-mile ride.

Photo credits: Erin Baumgartner

The Upland invasion was underway, crowds of outsiders going around to the many yard sales. So begin the Labor Day weekend festivities.
I picked up Diane and we visited Kayla's great display. Their honey sold well.

As you can tell by the tardiness of my posts, I am having a hard time keeping up with life's happenings. Will I ever catch up?