Friday, December 07, 2007

Getting ready for Christmas

This year our church is presenting a cantata with orchestra, video images, and dramatic scenes. I am the stage manager. The scene pictured here is of Mary and Joseph with the infant Jesus. I designed the set and led the team that built it. Turned out OK, I think. I am also in charge of the actors. The scene depicted above will have four angels enter stage right. I captured the photo below as the angels were awaiting their entrance. Aren't they just precious?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Office cat

SpookyRach suggested that I needed a cat for my office. Hey! I already have one! And it is very low maintenance. My mom painted this one about ten years ago. Every week or so I move it to a different location in the office. Oh, I have decorated the office for Christmas. I'll take some pix and post them later.

Yeah, the utilities workers came by and dug a hole in our street to fix the broken water pipe. I guess the part where they put asphalt over the mud comes later. For now we have a big mud square in front of our driveway.

Suddenlink did get our phone line operative, so now everything works--phone, internet, cable TV. The cost is lower than those three services purchased separately from other vendors, so I am happy. Just hope that Suddenlink is reliable.

I am so far behind on my preparation for the classes I teach online! Thank goodness for the upcoming Christmas break. Maybe I can get two or three lessons ahead. OK, it's bedtime now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Just waiting.

This morning I noticed a puddle at our curb and realized that a water main had broken under the street and water was bubbling up to create a birdbath. The birds appreciated it, but I called the city to get it fixed. The phone rang and rang--no answering machine. Ten minutes later (after 8:00), I called back and the lady said they would send someone right out.

I was already waiting because the service rep from Suddenlink is supposed to be here between 8:30 and 10:30 to change my phone service. I called at 8:30 just to be sure that I was on the schedule. It took 27 minutes before a live operator answered. She reminded that he has until 10:30 to get here. In the meantime a truck from the city came out and painted a rectangle on the street to mark the area for the excavator to dig. As soon as they left the birds returned, intriguing the cat across the street. I cleaned out the refrigerator.

I checked my online class. I read a few blogs. I straightened up a bit. No excavator yet. No service rep. It's 10:19. Suppose I should start now calling Suddenlink so that it won't be too much past 10:30 when I get hold of them? ~subdued grrrr~

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Somehow it has been hard to return to the ol' blog. It would be wrong to refer to the following as "highlights"--they are ordinary events--but that's about all that has been going on the last few weeks.
  • Remember the plants that I grew from seeds I found in Australia? The seeds were in pods on the ground under this bush with wonderfully perfumed flowers. I asked my son to find out the name of the plant, if he could. Yesterday he told me it was jasmine. Hmm. OK, jasmine grows like a vine and does not produce seed pods. So this seedling of which I have five iterations apparently came from the seeds of a tree above the jasmine shrub. I still don't know what it is. One pot is in my study; the plant is doing well. One pot is in the sun room and it is doing fairly well. One pot is outside and the stripling endured last night's snow very well. Whatever it is, it's hardy. Here is a close-up of the top of the plant. The leaves grow in pairs which close at night and pop open in the morning. Strange.

  • We didn't leave town for Thanksgiving. My sister had invited us for dinner at her house (outskirts of Austin) and my brother said we could stay overnight at his house (San Antonio). Very kind of them, but the weather here threatened snow and the idea of driving down there at night in the snow (and returning in similar weather) was sufficiently offputting that we declined. Cat would not have been able to get off on Wednesday anyway (to make the 6-hour drive). When some friends from church invited us to eat at their house, we agreed. On Tuesday evening I got a message that the cabin near Santa Fe NM which had our name on the wait list (since summer) was suddenly available. No, we did not change all our plans and drive into the teeth of the storm just to get to a cabin in the snowy woods all to ourselves. How would I explain that to my siblings?

  • I got out the Christmas tree and added lights. Now it will be time for Cat to hang the ornaments. Sometimes she lets me help with that. We bought some 12" long glass "icicles" from a company that was going out of business; they should be a nice addition. I am taking the chili pod lights to my office to decorate. I like to keep it interesting.

  • Now I have to go finish grading papers and projects from my church history class. They give me a headache. Do American high school students learn how to read (with understanding)? I am beginning to doubt it. How I long to discover a student who really understands research and analysis. OK, enough whining--now for grading.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's a mystery

First of all, the papers got graded and grades turned in. I have notes for tomorrow's Old Testament, Biblical Interpretation, and Latter Prophets classes. I will have to write up notes for the Church History class, but I can get up early in the morning and get that done. The set for the Christmas play should be fairly easy to build and I will have help from some experienced people. So I am stressing less. But that's not what I want to talk about.

In Sunday school we are working through Ephesians. It has been a good study; we are taking about half a chapter a week. Here's what struck me out of this week's study. When Christians choose to actually submit to God's direction and wind up suffering for the sake of others (as did Jesus), it not only binds us closer together as believers and strengthens our connection with and dependence on God, it serves as the evidence of "the manifold wisdom of God . . . to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms" (Eph. 3:10) that God's sovereign plan is working. When we Christians put aside our differences and act as "one body" (verse 6), we affect not just the members of our local church or the city in which we live, not just the denomination we claim, not just the visible Church around the globe, we--you and I--are the "theater of God's work" (J. A. Bengel) for the spiritual powers of the universe to observe. Everyone talks about trusting God, but just imagine how much God trusts us! Amazing.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

After a long hiatus

Here's the list:

  • Research papers and projects to grade before Monday

  • Old Testament summaries to grade before Monday

  • Final grades to turn in on Monday

  • Christmas drama to produce in four weeks (had our first meeting today!)

  • Hybrid class to prepare (starts next week); meets in Big Flat City 45 miles south of here for eleven weeks

  • New online class to teach; I have no lecture notes ready; starts next week

  • Projects from church history class to grade

And a month from now are the auditions for Proof. Do I dare even show up for that? The part (same one Anthony Hopkins had in the movie version) is very juicy. And of course there are the holidays which will require travel for us--once to central Texas and once to California. I may be scarce(r) around here for a while.

Friday, October 19, 2007

After a short hiatus

It's just been busy, that's all. I thought after the play was finished, the pace would slow down, but not so. Anyway, it is Fall Break here on the campus and at least I do not have class to teach today. Most of the teachers in my office decided to stay home, but I think that since the university pays me to work full-time, I ought to be here. And it's not like I have nothing to do. The new online term starts in a little over three weeks and I have MUCH preparation to do. If I wasn't working here at the office, I would be working at home. Just thought that I would take a break and post something so you wouldn't think I abandoned blogland. Have a good weekend.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Four things meme

Rachel tagged me for this meme. Hope you like it.

Four Jobs I’ve Held:
ESL teacher for foreign military personnel
Student minister

Four Films I Could Watch Over and Over:
Wait Until Dark
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Princess Bride

Four TV Shows I Watch:
Boston Legal
Grey's Anatomy
Almost anything on HGTV

Four Places I’ve Lived:
Austin Texas
Nice, France
Aiea, Hawaii
La Jolla, california

Four Favorite Foods:
Homemade green chili enchiladas (with mushrooms and spinach)
Traditional Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, yams, etc.)
Any kind of fruit pie
Almost any French food like an herbed Brie cheese with crusty bread, um, yummy!

Four Websites I Visit Daily:
My institution's Blackboard site
Various blogsites
[That's it for DAILY viewing. Every other website view is on a need-to-know basis. Really.]

Four Favorite Colors:
Sky blue



Soldier blue

Four Places I Would Love to be Right Now:
In my workshop at home
Any of the places I have lived before
Sydney, Australia (where it is turning spring)

Four Names You Love, But Could/Would Not Use for Your Children:
Nopadol Wongsaengarunsri (this is the name of a student that I had at UT Austin)
Palo Alto (OK, it's the name of a town, but I like saying it all run together)
Epaphroditus (name of the oldest ancestor I have tracked down)

OK, I now tag Phyllis, Songbird, Patti, and Carolanne. Write up your four memes now.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Another photo of the actors

Here is a shot for the newspaper. The idea is that Einstein is explaining his theory to Sagot, Germaine the barmaid, and Freddy the bar owner. This scene does not appear in the play, but there were only four of us available for photos yesterday. The painting behind Germaine's head is a copy of a 1906 Matisse that I did. Made the frame, too.

We will have a warm-up rehearsal tomorrow and then finish out the run Friday and Saturday nights. I am eager to present the play a couple more times, but even more anxious to shave off this little mustache and goatee.

This is my 200th post but it is not exactly earth-shattering. Glad you stopped by.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Picasso at the Lapin Agile

I have been busy this last week. Our play opened last Thursday and we have been very much in rehearsals. So far it has gone well--lots of laughs, no major goof-ups. One night a gel (colored filter in a metal frame) fell off one of the lights and landed a couple of feet from one of the actors. He just looked over at it, said, "Hmph" and went on with his lines. The show must go on.

The photo is of some of the cast. The characters are, from left to right, Picasso, Schmendiman, Suzanne, Einstein, and Sagot. The set for this turned out fabulous, especially a five foot square copy of Les Demoiselles D'Avignon that was painted by an art teacher here. She did an amazing job and the cast sometimes just stands in front of it gawking. I will try to get a decent picture this week. We close on Saturday. Yesterday (Saturday 29th) one of the people in the audience was a cousin of Steve Martin (who wrote the play). He lives in Big Flat City south of us, had never seen the play, and decided to come up for the show. That was kind of cool.

The play has a lot of laughs, some immediate, some what the play itself refers to as "icebox laughs"--when you don't get the joke until an hour later when you are standing in front of the icebox. It has some poignant moments, too, when the actors are discussing art. The script reveals Martin's love for great artwork.

I am looking forward to four free nights before our next performance. If you are in Fake Cow Town this weekend, make plans to see the show.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The snacks worked!

At the suggestion of Mindy, I set out some peanut butter AND tortilla chips on the deck to see if the Mindybird would be attracted to it. Then I sat with my camera on a tripod and waited. And waited. And waited. Good thing I brought along a couple of crossword puzzles. Then it happened--the Mindybird flew to the railing and eyed the snacks. She looked me over carefully then dropped to the deck floor. I was able to get this photo before she snatched a chip and took off. Amiable little critter, but kind of shy.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Quit flittin' around!

The Mindybird has been out and about, but of course, when I see her, I don't have my camera at hand. I will try putting out some croissant pieces, maybe with a nice raspberry jam, and have my camera ready. Be patient--this could take a while. By the way, she is very colorful and flies extremely fast.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New sighting

Well, I didn't expect the birdhouse to attract a resident so quickly. Looks like we have a Mindybird living on the north side.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Something odd occurred this last week. I posted a notice about SpookyRach and Jonboy. That's not the odd part. What was strange to me was the fact that several people commented on that posting who have never ever commented on my blogsite before. So that appears to mean that there are more-or-less regular readers of this blog who never comment. OK, just this one time, would everyone who reads this leave a comment, even if it is just to say "Hi"? And if there is something that would engage you more in my postings, let me know. (We used to play games here, but it has been a while.)

Here's the latest project: a multi-room birdhouse. Cat kept placing pages torn from magazines in spots where I would find them, pages with pictures of birdhouses. Doesn't take me long to get the hint--only several months. So I built this six-room house with a screen floor (for easier cleaning). At first I used old license plates for the roof, but that looked pretty tacky. The final material was left over from a kiddie swimming pool at least 40 years old.

I dug a hole, poured in concrete, and plumbed the pole yesterday. All that left was mounting the birdhouse this afternoon. We will see if the birds like it. I tried to keep it out of range of the squirrels.

Here's another project. On Tuesday of last week I was asked to be in a play ("Picasso at the Lapin Agile" by Steve Martin) here at the university in Fake Cow Town. The role is that of a French art dealer during the beginning of the twentieth century. How could I say "no"? The play opens the last weekend of THIS MONTH, however, so there's a lot of work ahead. By the way, we are still looking for an actor to play the part of Elvis, so if you know of anyone . . .

Friday, September 07, 2007

Doing better, it seems

Rachel and Jon's dad seems to be on the mend. Check out Rachel's blogsite for a commentary. She's funny even in a crisis.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Prayers for fellow bloggers

Most of you know SpookyRach and Jonboy; well, heck, ALL of you know her. Rachel and Jon's mother is so severely crippled that their father must devote a considerable number of hours a day caring for her. Well, he has just been diagnosed with heart trouble and will need bypass surgery immediately. So not only do Rachel and Jon need to be concerned about their father's wellbeing, but about their mom while he is not at home to take care of her. If you are the praying sort, please pray for Alvin and Cathy as well as Rachel and Jon and their families. Thanks.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Mindy's turn, moon view, and another dream

The Princess of Everything (and then some) has requested an interview. So here we go:
  • Why has pantie-palooza become so important to you?

  • Sometimes a sensory perception will set off a nostalgic moment. When is the last time that happened to you?

  • You have many blog buddies. If you had a party where you could meet them all face-to-face, where would it be held?

  • In your experience, where has the church most succeeded?

  • Did you do arts and crafts as a little girl or did you start that later?

  • Just in case you do not remember the rules, here they are:
    1. If you are interested in being interviewed, leave me a comment saying “Interview me.”
    2. I will respond by posting five questions for you. I get to pick the questions.
    3. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.
    4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
    5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

    This is the best shot that I could get of the lunar eclipse the other night. I tried holding one binocular eyepiece (what would you call it? a leg? an "ocular"?) up to the camera lens, but of course it was impossible to hold it steady enough for a good photo. So I hope you have seen better snaps than this, because they certainly exist.

    Last night I had a dream in which I came up with a word game. Here is how it went. The game creator writes a series of sentences with a blank space for one word in each of the sentences. The word that should fill the blank can be deduced by rearranging the letters in another word in that same sentence while either adding or subtracting a letter. Here's an example (from the dream):
    The first pig to the trough ______ to be the fattest. (ought) [R]
    The person playing the game would have to figure out the missing words and write the extra letter in a box at the end of the sentence. Then the player would try to rearrange the extra letters into a word that completes the last sentence. What do you think?

    Sunday, August 26, 2007

    And now more interview questions

    Cat and I had a great time at the concert (Three Redneck Tenors) on Friday. It turns out that one of them is married to a lady who went to school in Big Flat City. The guys gave us a show that included some impromptu clowning around and a couple more encores than one might have expected. As a bonus, the couple that sat next to us included a woman whom Cat and I had known in our college days. She had lived in Georgia until recently.

    When we exited the theater, a thunderstorm was just beginning to get worked up. We got pretty spattered on the way to the car. (Yes, I offered to go get the car and bring it around, but Cat insisted on going with me. "It's only water.") Well, it was pouring down by the time we got to the car. Fortunately, we already had a hotel room there in town to which to return. And we spent most of the next day shopping in stores more diverse than those in Fake Cow Town. Little did we know that our fair town was hit overnight by lightning and windstorms that wreaked havoc. Tree branches were scattered all over the place when we returned home. That's what it is like to live in West Texas.

    Enough delay--let's get on with the interview questions. These are for Patti and Christopher.

    Was there a "precipitating event" that sparked your desire to conserve and re-use?

    If you could exchange one aspect of living in NY state with something characteristic of another state, what would you choose and why?

    Was meeting Songbird face-to-face pretty much what you expected or were there surprises?

    Out of all the American presidents past and current, with which one would you most like to sit down for conversation?

    What do you think is the oddest item that you have saved although it no longer has a use?

    How did you get from being an associate of San Antonio Baptist pastor Buckner Fannin to pastoring a UCC church in Indiana? Just the short version, please. (BTW, Cat and I belonged to Buckner's church for about 10 months in 1977-78.)

    What prompted you to try your hand at writing poetry?

    Is there a style of hair (facial or cranial) or of clothing you have wanted to try out, but didn't quite have the nerve?

    What do you remember about a teacher during your elementary school days who most influenced your view of life at the time?

    What experiences have you had with Iranians?

    I look forward to your responses, really I do.

    Friday, August 24, 2007

    The Interviews

    What I am supposed to be doing right now is getting ready for an overnight trip to Big Flat City. Cat and I are going to a show featuring the Three Redneck Tenors (did you see them on TV trying out for that reality show?) and we decided to have a nice dinner first and spend the night in a hotel afterwards. But it doesn't take me long to pack, and besides I promised Rachel and Phyllis I would post their interview questions by today. So here goes:

    1. Let's say that you have 24 hours to absolutely do whatever you want: family and friends, co-workers and telephone solicitors have all agreed to leave you alone for the day. What are some of the activities you would do?

    2. Sometimes after leaving a movie you are still "in the movie" for a while. What is the most memorable such instance?

    3. Your blog persona of SpookyRach gleefully incorporates dark and weird elements. To what extent do you think this is a reaction to being a pastor's daughter?

    4. When do you think that you felt most failed by the church?

    5. Besides the physical exercise, what have been some of the benefits of riding your bike to and from work?

    1. You are proud of being a redhead, but if you had to change your hair color for a week, what would you choose and why?

    2. If there is one habit of your local church that you could change, what is it and how would you change it?

    3. Have you always been artistic or did this develop gradually?

    4. What spiritual discipline do you find most difficult to practice consistently? Why do you think this is so?

    5. What do you remember about the first time you realized that there was a bigger world than West Texas?

    Patti and Christopher, I am working on your questions. No lifelines and no German (OK, eine kleine deutsche).

    Sunday, August 19, 2007

    Long time no post

    Wow, has it been ten days since the last post? Thanks for not bailing on me.* I cut out the article about SWBTS and put it on my office door. There have been a few comments, most sardonic.

    Remember the neighbor across the street? The one that got me to thinking about hosting a neighborhood barbecue just to look for an opportunity to witness? Well, the other evening, he brought over a sack of veggies (his wife has a garden that is starting to overproduce) and we got to talking. Turns out that both he and his wife were raised going to church. He claimed to love the Lord and agreed that he should be going to church again. But he is working about 80-90 hours a week, so that leaves little time for anything else. He said that the barbecue was a good idea--maybe in October. Well, it would be cooler then and maybe most of the mosquitoes would have departed.

    Over on Paul's site But a Poor Reflection, he has posted interview questions for me (and several other folks). Here are the questions with responses.
    1. Why do you call yourself ‘Little’ David? Are you really a small guy or just very humble? Well, I am relatively short: 5'7" and shrinking as I age! My parents named me after Israel's second king, the one who evidently went up against a giant. Turns out he was short too. It would be disingenuous of me to claim that I am humble.
    2. What is the biggest challenge for the church today and what can individual Christians do about that? And now for an easy question, eh, Paul? Churches in this century have a huge variety of contexts, particularly when compared to the first-century church. In some ways, the (biblical) advice given to them just does not connect today. But in a meaningful way, what the gospel writers have relayed to us about Jesus' words and actions, as well as St. Paul's advice to the beleaguered church, still speak to us now. The age-old challenge that I observe in churches I have called home is that of dying to self. We (and I am really a part of this crowd) still want God to sanctify us according to our ideas rather than submitting to what God has in mind for us. We want to be served rather than to serve. We want to be fed rather than to feed. In short, we continue to be babies. The most that an individual Christian can do about that is to constantly submit oneself to the Lordship of Christ: hear the Word, obey the Word.
    3. You visited all the continents, except South America. What’s wrong with South America? ;-) And: if you had to move to South America, please tell us the preferred country and explain your choice. Nothing personal, really. I would have to polish up my Spanish or learn Portuguese in order to fully appreciate the experience. Curiously enough, since participating in an online conference several months ago, I have started a correspondence with a fellow from Guyana who is studying in England. I used Google Earth to locate his hometown in Guyana and to look at photos of the area. The photos revealed poverty and natural beauty, not unlike most parts of Africa. I think that I would like to visit this student. Who knows? Maybe I COULD live there.
    4. The North Pole is melting. Do you care about this and do you think Canada, Denmark or Russia are entitled to claim the melted ice / the part of the globe where the ice used to be? Yes, I do care about global climate change and the consequent melting of the poles. I am ashamed of the inadequate response my country has made to this issue. As far as the northern countries claiming more land, though I have not pondered this before, my initial reaction is, sure, go ahead. If you can do something useful with it before the next ice age, be my guest.
    5. You have rescued a highly talented artist out of a life-threatening situation. As a reward he offers to make something for you – for free! Please dream with me – what kind of artist would you like this to be and what would you like him / her to make for you? Hmm. Seeing as I have several artists in my family who have already produced some wonderful watercolors, oil paintings, pastels, and sculptures, I think that I would ask for music. Truly great music transcends the ages and touches the subconscious over and over. Purely instrumental would be fine and if there were lyrics, they could be in another language, I wouldn't mind (OK, well, I am not all that wild about German).

    Those are my answers and here are the rules I agreed to:
    1. If you are interested in being interviewed, leave me a comment saying “Interview me.”
    2. I will respond by posting five questions for you. I get to pick the questions.
    3. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.
    4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
    5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

    *Note to Carolanne and Paul--"bailing" = "bailing out, leaving unceremoniously"

    Friday, August 10, 2007

    Dream joke and you must be joking

    Do you ever dream something that seems so logical and real and then when you wake up it makes no sense at all? I think that is a typical experience. Well, the other night, I dreamt that I had made up a joke, and when I woke up, the punch line actually made sense! OK, it's not the funniest joke in the world but it makes sense. Here's my dream joke:

    At the hospital they kept having trouble with new interns from the medical school, especially in the pediatric ward. Many of the interns were brusque to the point of rudeness, even cursing in front of the children. The hospital initiated a program to try to sensitize the interns to the needs of children patients. They supplied the interns with little teddy bears to keep in their pockets, instructing them to give the bears to new patients as they met them. They also provided a list of alternate exclamations to use instead of swearing. You know what they called the program? "'Golly' docs and the free bears!"

    OK, not hilarious but pretty good for a dream joke.

    Now from the news, an item that made my jaw drop. It seems that Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, largest seminary in the world (I think it still holds that title) is going to start offering a new degree: a BA in Humanities with a concentration in Homemaking. That's right, folks, they are teaching students cooking, sewing, home decorating. But not all students--only WOMEN students. No men need apply. There's seven semester hours of textile design and clothing construction as well as a three-hour course on the "biblical model for the home and family" (AP). Gosh, wouldn't it save time just to give 'em a chart with the hierarchy graphed out? How do you spend 45 contact hours describing a "biblical model" when everyone already knows what the teacher is going to say?

    The new program is offered through their College at Southwestern and is designed "to prepare women to model the characteristics of the godly woman as outlined in Scripture." If you want to see a list of the courses required for the specialization click here and scroll down to Homemaking.* Somehow the idea of creating a bachelor's degree specifically for Christian housewives--how did they ever get that by the accrediting agency? I know that the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is one of the toughest regional accrediting boards in the US. I'm just floored, I tell ya. I'm a John Leland, Thomas Helwys kind of Baptist. This tripe going on today just makes me woozy.
    *The core requirements (108 semester hours) for the BA in Humanities includes a whopping 45 hours of Christian history and only three hours of introduction to social science. No psychology or counseling, no modern languages, no math, no geography, no music (well, 3 hours of "Fine Arts Perspectives of Life"). More PE hours are required than natural science. This is a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities???

    Sunday, August 05, 2007

    "Everybody's doin' it, the locomotion, . . ."

    Click to view my Personality Profile page
    Well, maybe not everybody, but it seems to be the blog rage of the moment.

    Saturday, August 04, 2007

    Words are weird

    OK, except for Patti's comment, it is pretty clear that you didn't think much of the "fonetik alfubet." I must admit that I worked on it late at night.

    So how do you pronounce "dour"? We watched the movie "Prairie Home Companion" again the other night and looked at all the featurettes. Meryl Streep commented on Garrison Keeler's countenance and pronounced the word to rhyme with "pour" instead of "sour." Just looking at "dour" I would have used the other pronunciation, but hand it to Meryl, she got it right on this one. That's because the word comes from Latin "durus" meaning "hard." Duh! Why didn't I think of that? It's because English is spelled so goofy, I tell ya!

    Now in other news, Cat and I were so sick Friday morning, we didn't go to work. Well, she went to work and then came right back because there was someone to cover for her. (Thanks, JW!) We slept until 1:00 or so and finally had lunch at 2:00. Haven't gotten out of the house today except to buy groceries. It's yucky being sick. I've had pneumonia for five weeks (and now maybe pink eye), and Cat just had zero energy. Gettin' old.

    I guess this is one of those rambling posts. Let me go take a photo of my latest project and I will be right back. Don't go away!
    Seven minutes later

    Now that I have a new office (well, not NEW new, just new to me), I have been thinking I needed a little table to go between the two chairs against the wall. That's where my somewhat infrequent visitors sit to chat, and it seemed like a good idea to provide a table on which to put their keys or cell phone or coffee mug, you know, that sort of thing. Makes it more homey. So, using some oak left over from a flooring project, I made this little table: 12 inches square, 24 inches tall. It only has two coats of finish on it right now, so it is not as shiny as it will be by Monday. I am also thinking of putting a thick glossy coat on top using this stuff made for decoupage. It's left over from Mom's art supplies.

    We still have lots of that stuff left over. I have a cigar box with at least a hundred pencils in it. And there is a boxful of little cutters for making clay beads. And there is a kiln out in the workshop. Maybe when I retire I will have time to make stuff.

    OK, on to other things. The other night I was thinking about my neighborhood. We've been living here for nearly seven years. We know the names of our neighbor to the east, our neighbors across the street (well, two of them at least) and our neighbors next door on the west. And that's it. Oh yeah, there's the "cat people" who own the house on the end of the block but actually live in the one across the street. Their cats live in the garage of the house on our block. And that's it: maybe seven names total. That's pretty pathetic, if you ask me. And it turns out that the little girl who wrote the "Y'all R so nice" message on our driveway lives in the house two doors down. She sent us a note saying what good neighbors we are! All we do is wave at her when we drive by--that's it!

    So I am thinking that before school starts, it is high time that we have a neighborhood barbecue, you know, have some burgers and sit out under the carport just getting to know each other. I'm sure the single guy who lives next door to our across-the-street neighbors would like to feel more a part of the neighborhood. Well, I guess he would; I haven't talked with him since he moved in a year ago.

    Maybe, just maybe, there could be a development out of this. Perhaps we could agree to have a get-together a couple of times a month. Maybe as we got to know each other, we could talk about important things. I know that most of the folks on our block do not go to church on Sunday. I am certain that the family across the street are not Christians; we have talked some. Hmmm. I think I had better go buy a grill.

    Sunday, July 29, 2007

    streinj langwij

    Do you realize how hard it is to pronounce English words based on the spelling? It is an awful language for non-native speakers to learn (and more than a few native speakers have problems with spelling). For example, how do you describe the pronunciation of "ough" in light of: tough, though, through, trough, thought, and drought? It's a nightmare! The only logical thing to do is to use a phonetic alphabet, one in which every letter maintains a consistent sound, there are no digraphs (combination of two or more letters to produce one sound, e.g., "ph") and both vowels of a dipthong (one letter representing a blend of two sounds) are written. Well, that's a challenge if you want to stick with the letters in the present alphabet.

    I decided to try my hand at it keeping with characters available on the standard keyboard. Tell me what you think. (Oh, that hibiscus is a recent addition to our porch. So far it has been pretty hardy. We'll see what happens in winter.)

    Scroll way down. For some reason, Blogger does not care for table code.

    afatnnow, dinner
    qfather, hotopoke, okay
    bbag, jabppoke, sap, supper
    ccheese, hatchrrake, arrest, car
    ddeedssand, face, asset, science
    ebet, edgettreat, better
    ffix, phone, effectubug, apple, president, anonymous
    gguard, dogvvein, heavy
    hhadwwent, queen
    iit, youxshoot, sugar, addition
    jjug, wage, giantyshoot, tuna
    =azurezeasy, zip, buzzed
    llit, allow\then
    mmix, summer^fee, beat, gene, receipt
    qieye, aisle, five, buyaohouse, how
    eimake, vein, payquought, taut
    iyfew, musicyushould, wood

    hir iz u post wic wil rikwqir sum dusqifur^ng. it iz nqt ^z^ ty rqit u funetik alfubet for ^nglix iyz^ng onl^ #u k^z qn u k^bord wi\aot dqigrafs. #u vaowul saondz rikwqir men^ dif#qngz. qi \^nk #is wyud teik sum praktis az qlmost evr^ wurd wyud b^
    r^speld. and wqt xyud b^ dun ubaot \^ngz lqik "etc."? qi ges #ei wyud hav ty b^ speld aot: "etseturu."

    hao wyud wun ukaont fqr r^junul aksents? fqr egzampul "would" mqit b^ speld ^#ur "wyud" or "wud." wqt if evr^wun speld wurdz #u wei #ei saond ty #em (or #im)? qi no wun gqi hy pronaonsez "us" as "uz."

    wqt ubaot kapitul leturs? kyud #ei b^ yzd just for neimz? but wqt ubaot neimz #at stqrt wi\ "#" and "\"? meib^ iy wyud hav ty kapitulqiz #u hol wurd: \^UDOR ("Theodore"). kuntracxuns wyud b^ streinj; "it iz" kuntracts ty "its" (or xyud it b^ "it's"?). if iy hav red #is fqr, iy mei b^ az loko az qi am.

    Sunday, July 22, 2007

    Feeling better, thanks.

    Well, let's just say that I feel less sick. And the first week of the transition is OVER! Of course, there will still be times when I will need to go back over to the other office to help out, but all day Friday I got to stay in my new office relatively uninterrupted. It was wonderful!

    The lawn is starting to look like a jungle. Perhaps I can muster up the stamina to do the edging today. Cat's sister CS was here over the weekend and kept promising to mow the lawn. But that didn't happen. Oh, and Aileen, one of our friends from Hawaii, spent last week here in Fake Cow Town visiting the various offices. We wound up the week going to see the musical TEXAS in Palo Duro Canyon. The show was good (we sat three rows from the front of the stage!) and the person who got the award for visiting from furthest away was a Kenyan. I went and talked with him during the intermission. His sister-in-law, who was present, had taught Swahili at Brackenhurst, the Baptist conference center where Cat and I have stayed on our Kenya trips. Small world, eh? Anyway, Aileen seems to have enjoyed herself and will go back with memories of an incredibly flat landscape (the drive between here and the canyon). [Note to Aileen: I have opened the pineapple-papaya jam and guava jelly so far. Ummmmmm! Yummy!]

    Aloha, y'all.

    Sunday, July 15, 2007


    Over at Carolanne's site I ran across a link to a personality test online. Here's the report from my quiz (run your cursor over the blocks to see the individual components):

    The inventory was interesting. I admired its construction and, at least in my case, it seems to be fairly accurate. Of courses, I am the introspective sort, so I have already considered a number of the issues that it raised. If you would like to take the inventory yourself, click on PersonalDNA. There is no signup necessary to take the inventory.

    In other news, I am pretty tired today. I hope that this means that the antibiotic I am taking for my pneumonia is taking effect. Tomorrow starts a big week for me: new staff members at work, a visiting colleague to fetch from the airport, training several people at once, providing dessert for an office lunch. And that's just Monday and Tuesday!

    Cat and I went impulse shopping yesterday. We bought a clothes dryer and a vacuum cleaner. Well, we have needed replacements of those two for quite some time and, by golly, let's just do it, I heard myself say. From my brief and recent experience, I can tell you that Dyson's really work.

    Inspired by SpookyRach's yearbook photo, I decided to post a yearbook photo myself. It is not from my yearbook. It is from the first year that our son Greg was in college. He made quite an impression, apparently. Yep, that's my boy.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007


    That's right--this posting is just stew. No particular subject. Who knows? I might post a photo. We'll see.

    When I came back from Ruidoso, I came down with a cold on Monday. That was two and a half weeks ago. Mostly it's gone now, but I still have this hacking cough and a really sore throat. Yeah, yeah, I am going to see the doctor tomorrow. Taking a book, because the receptionist had to "squeeze me in" to the schedule, so you know I will spend most of the afternoon in the waiting room. But maybe something useful will happen.

    It's weird at work. I have been an administrator at my university for the last four years. Then an opportunity came up for me to be the university's first full-time online religion professor. So I jumped at the chance. The job started July 1. In theory. The reality is that since my replacement is not on campus yet and the other new employees have to be trained and there's no computer yet in my new office, I'm hanging around the old office. And then I wander over to the new office. Two sets of keys. Two phone numbers. Two desks. It's weird.

    Our Sunday school class has been studying the sermons of Jesus as recorded in Matthew's gospel. In preparation for last Sunday's lesson ("take no thought what you should wear . . ."), I counted the clothes in my closet. If you take all the short-sleeved shirts (with a collar--no T shirts) and multiply that by the number of pants, I could wear a different combination of clothes every day for 555 days! OK, so I wouldn't match at least half of those days, but think how many people in the world have two or even just one set of clothes! That's it. I'm not buying any more clothes. Well, maybe socks and undies.

    I went looking for a photo and decided to give you an etymological lesson on the word zenith. It actually came from an Arabic word samt ("road") which got transcribed as cemt in medieval Europe. But because Gothic letters consist of mostly vertical strokes, cemt was mistranscribed as cenit. Because this was a scholarly word, most Europeans encountered it in books and had no idea about its original pronunciation. Eventually it became pronounced zenith. And now you know. (See how lazy I am--this appeared in a previous posting!)

    Monday, July 09, 2007

    Must be summer

    Well, it must be summer here because we are having big ol' whopping thunderstorms. It stays hot all day and the clouds, teenage punks hanging around outside the smoke shop, keep threatening to do something. Finally it cuts loose and when the rain falls hard, the lightening takes off. Some of the strikes were no more than a quarter mile from our house. We just sat on the porch and watched the show. I was lucky enough to catch this strike, although it went behind a tree, so you don't get the full effect. And what a BOOM when a bolt hits nearby! Went on for about twenty minutes and then it just settled down to sprinkling. It's all my fault--I watered the backyard last night.

    Oh yeah, I have a guess as to the mysterious chalkwriter. About a week ago, an adolescent girl riding her bike down the street fell over right in front of our house. Cat rushed out the door to see if she was OK. The girl professed to be just fine and said not to worry about her. Waving off Cat's "Are you sure?" she pedaled on down the street. I'm thinking it might have been her.

    Sunday, July 08, 2007

    A couple of oddities

    Friday when we came home from work, we found that someone had left a chalk message on our driveway. This is quite confusing because the only person on our block with whom we regularly exchange favors is a bit old to be down on her knees writing with chalk. Was it the people across the street? We hardly ever talk to them--mostly friendly waves and "Are the 'skeeters eating you up?"

    Maybe some children were playing on our driveway and one wrote the message for the others. After all, there is a small "Thanks" scrawled to the side. Could that been a playmate's response? But it seems to be in the same handwriting.

    Perhaps friends who do not live nearby did this. I am intrigued that the word "y'all" was correctly spelled (not "ya'll" as one often sees) while "R" was substitutetd for "are." Maybe I am over-analyzing this. Maybe space aliens did this. (Rachel is out of town or I would suspect her.)

    Another oddity is this flower growing in our backyard. Like Jonah's vine, it just sprung up all of a sudden. When it was about a yard tall, we thought it was a sunflower. But once it started flowering, the flowers look like brown-eyed Susans. The thing looks rather gangly with the thick stalk and leaves that are many times larger than the flowers. What do you think it is? And who planted THAT in our yard? We are going to have to keep a closer eye on our house!

    Sunday, July 01, 2007

    Mountains of New Mexico

    As you may recall, Cat came up to Ruidoso with some friends so we were able to spend a couple of nights together (Cat and me, not our friends). Anyway, we were wondering what to do on Saturday before the play rehearsal and saw a lookout spot on the Chamber of Commerce map. Hey, if it's on the visitors' map, I figure we can go see it, right? So we turn off the highway at the appropriate exit and then depart from the asphalt to take the gravel road uphill. Did I mention that we are in the PWT Saturn? As we grind on up the hill, the rocks and the potholes get progressively larger. Every time I think that we are almost to the top, there's another turn and a long climb.

    Finally we make it to the top and people are there. I mean lots of people, some of them camping two yards from the parking lot. Families of people. People with dogs. This is anything but secluded. Well, it was on the Chamber of Commerce map, after all. So Cat and I hike up to the steps that lead up the tower to the lookout.

    Wow, what a view! We can't go all the way to the very top, because that's where a forest ranger is sitting behind a locked door, scanning the horizon for forest fires. Or maybe watching TV, I'm not sure. But the view is incredible. Of course, photos do not do it justice. But here's the view from atop Monjeau Tower. Be sure to click on the photo to see it better.

    Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    Five things I dig about Jesus

    Patti tagged me for this posting. The rules and my selections are below the list.

    1. His humility (not to be confused with false modesty). "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" [Matthew 24:36].
    2. His sarcasm with the religious elite. "Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue, and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God" [Luke 12:42a].
    3. His integrity and willingness to tell the truth no matter what. "When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at [the centurion] and turning to the crowd following him, he said, 'I tell you , I have not found such faith even in Israel'" [Luke 7:9].
    4. His compassion. "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" [Matthew 9:36].
    5. His acceptance of people's faith. "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven'" [Matthew 9:2b].

    Here are the rules:
    (a) Those tagged will share "Five Things They Dig About Jesus".
    (b) Those tagged will tag 5 people.
    (c) Those tagged will leave a link to their meme in the comments section of this post so everyone can keep track of what's being posted.

    Here's who I tagged:
    Mindy, Annie, Carolanne, Paul, and Phyllis

    Shadowlands in review

    Wow, I have to say that I am amazed at how well the play went, especially in light of the obstacles. We were only allowed in the Spencer Theater Wednesday through Friday, 9:00 to 5:00. And then we went through a technical rehearsal the afternoon of the performance! So we had to do all rehearsals (except for three-and-a-half days) in some other location. But the crowd was bigger than last year's by at least a hundred people. And they really liked the play and none of us seriously dropped any lines. The theater has only invited one university in the US to present a play on their
    stage, ONE. And that is Wayland Baptist University. And they have told us they want us to keep doing this annually for the next seven years! Yeah, I'm proud.

    The top photo is the much vaunted wardrobe. As Jonboy stated, it is ten feet tall and nine feet wide. The doors had to open and close automatically three times during the play, twice with fog coming out. And guess who designed the doors, hung them, figured out the mechanics, and pulled the strings to make it happen? Yeah, me, that's right. It was so cool to see this actually work. The wardrobe was disassembled and will be reconstructed on our campus for the ceremonies which welcome the freshman students in August.

    The bottom photo is me in the role of Harry Harrington, a stodgy British preacher. The hardest lines for me to deliver came right after the very poignant death scene. I had to be uncaring, saying "Better sooner than later. Better quick than slow. After all, it was no mystery--the writing was on the wall." It was so difficult to watch the actors right before my entrance without weeping. They were really good.

    Well, we are experiencing thunder and lightening at the moment, so I guess I should shut down my computer. I will post again later with scenic shots of New Mexico.

    Saturday, June 16, 2007

    "Return to normalcy"

    It has been almost two weeks since we returned from Kenya. That is enough time for the body to re-adjust to this time zone. Enough time to get back to the routine foods. Enough time to get consumed by the work and church schedules. But there is no returning to normalcy. I think that "normal" is simply an idea. It doesn't really exist. It is just a collection of attributes selectively extracted from the processes of life. In some ways, the idea of normalcy distracts us from reality. Instead of being attentive to the distinct details of life's progression, we dully register only the "normal" attributes.

    Now to something else. While we were gone, a neighbor watered our houseplants. Well, she actually opened the door so her daughter-in-law could take care of them. And the plants look terrific! Our plumeria had started to bloom right before we left and we thought we would miss the show. But it was in full flower when we returned. The plumeria is a constant reminder of Hawai'i for us. When we visited Australia almost a year ago, I collected seeds from a flowering bush and brought them home with me (sssssshhhh! Don't tell Homeland Security!) I waited until spring and planted them. Lo and behold, there are now four seedlings! The leaves fold together at night, and in the morning when they open back up, they actually vibrate from springing open. Can't wait for the flowers because they smell so wonderful.

    I'm headed to Ruidoso next week to be in a play. If you happen to be in New Mexico on Saturday 23rd, go to the Spencer Theater in Ruidoso and buy a ticket. It's a small role, but part of a team effort that has not been without its challenges. The play is "Shadowlands" and it is based on events in the life of C. S. Lewis. I will take a photo of the huge wardrobe (free-standing clothes closet) that we built for the play. It is awesome.

    Thursday, June 07, 2007


    While I attended the e-learning conference, Cat was on safari at Lake Nakuru. This salty lake attracts flamingos and pelicans in great abundance. In this photo, the pinkish white color is thousands of flamingos. Of course there are other animals to see as well. On the early morning trek of the safari there was a family of lions within several hundred yards of the campsite. This video shows them strolling out towards the lake. Cat took this video.

    Thursday, May 31, 2007

    Busy, busy, busy

    Wow, a lot has happened since last week! Our team (or members thereof) conducted a workshop at a church, visited an animal orphanage and giraffe preserve, went on safari, attended an international conference, and walked through mud to make evangelistic visits in the slums nearby. The photo is Cat with a little girl in a Christian day care center in the slums. Some of the kids were abandoned and living on the street when the center started caring for them. They get two meals a day, education, games, and love in a one-room facility (there are separate buildings for kitchen, storage, etc.)

    Here is an example of a visit that Cat and I made in the slums with our fellow Christian and interpreter Peninah. We simply opened the gate to the yard and walked up to the closest house. A grandmother was washing some clothes, but she immediately stopped and invited us in. We sat on a wee bench and a stool. This woman loved Jesus and would start singing about how faithful God has been to her. We talked about children and about physical ailments (her eyes are burning and she has not been able to go to a doctor). We prayed together. She insisted on giving us a gift, so we took the two sweet potatoes she offered. When I said I would like to take her picture, she disappeared for a minute and came back wearing her black and white hat. Here is Cat, Mama Jane, and Peninah. Peninah told us that we were doing good with our visits because we were showing concern for people without being condescending. We listened to their stories and told them ours. When we could give them something we would (Cat gave her Bible to at 19-year-old named Lillian, I gave a packet of Kleenex to Mama Jane). The people have been warm and welcoming and mystified by white people. (Peninah could not believe that in the US, if you knocked of the door of a stranger, they would likely send you away without even asking your name, much less inviting you in.) It is humbling to get to know another culture.

    Thursday, May 24, 2007

    The Nest--it's the best!

    Kenyan women are traditionally dependent on men. When a husband abandons his family, the woman may try to gain income from selling vegetables (without a license), stealing, or even prostitution. There is an orphanage in Limuru which specializes in children of imprisoned women. It is named The Nest. The children in this orphanage recieve excellent care and the program is wholistic. It involves counseling for the family. These babies sleep in a huge bed secure in the protective environment. Visiting here, feeding infants, playing with the older children, and hearing their stories was a wonderful experience.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2007

    Has it been a week yet?

    It is the fifth day of our Kenya trip and we just completed the first full day of work. And I do mean full. For this first week, we are partnering with members of the Banana Hill Baptist Church. It is located in a town with high unemployment and political unrest. There are many single mothers. Here I am in the home of one of those mothers. She is on the left; I have her son on my lap. We visited with her because the gate to her yard was unlocked. She was washing clothes when we walked up and she invited us into her home. It is one room with a bed, two couches, a cabinet, and clothes hanging from clothesline stretched over the walls. A cooking pot with ugali sat on the floor. She was raised as a Catholic but rarely goes to church. Her two friends (pictured) go to other churches and they said that they all pray together. Her boy had to stay home because he was sick; the little girl was in school. When I asked her how to pray for her family she said that money for medicine (and food) was lacking. She also asked that we pray for peace in Banana Hill. Two factions in the town have become violent towards each other and mutilated bodies have turned up. One faction is characterized by drug use (marijuana).

    If you pray, please remember these people.

    Monday, May 21, 2007

    Now coming to you from Africa

    I have not taken any photos yet; the camera has been buried in my take-on luggage. But I have had plenty of thoughts over the last 48 hours (38 of which have been spent wearing the same clothes I put on to start this trip. Weather was not problematic, all our luggage arrived at the Nairobi airport the same time we did, and there were people at the airport to meet us when we arrived. Now our team is dog-tired, but enjoying the sunshine, flowers, and cool mountain air.

    I am composing this post on a computer in the lab in the library basement. The electricity has shut down twice while I have been working on this; but we have a large bank of batteries for backup, so the only thing hindering me is that I keep dozing off while typing. It makes for a lot of editing.

    Promise, I will take some photos and come back when my sentences don't end witg worfffffffffffff

    Sunday, May 13, 2007

    Mothers' Day

    Here we are at the end of Mothers' Day, and despite the fact that both our mothers are gone, we had quite a busy day. The peony in the photo came from a bush we transplanted from my mom's house before she died. This year our peonies are just performing marvelously. We cut this stem and put it on the table for Mothers' Day lunch. "If your mothers are dead and your kids live far away, who came to this event?" you might ask.

    Well, Cat's sister decided she had better see us before we left for Kenya so she came up. And my sister had to make a business trip to the Route 66 town north of us, so she came down. My cousin, her husband, and their daughter had already planned to come into town to see her mom, my mother's sister, and her husband, so they all came over. For orphans, we had a pretty fair sampling of family around us. They all enjoyed the food and talked way into the afternoon.

    I'm glad they all came to be with us. But I still miss Mom.

    Sunday, May 06, 2007

    Bullied into posting

    OK, so Phyllis saw me in church and asked why I had not yet posted photos of the living room floor. So I snapped some shots and here they are. One is of the floor and two are of the walls that I repainted. Do you like the art? Most of it came from my family. My mom was a painter. Most of the pastels and watercolors are hers. I did the wood assemblies a long time ago.

    Monday, April 23, 2007

    Fixing stuff

    When we moved everything out of the living room to make way for the floor refinishing, the stereo had locked up four CDs and would not open up. So I just put it in the back room and called Sony. No, of course they couldn't tell me what was wrong. They are only prepared for such problems as "Is the unit plugged in?" Finally they recommended a repair shop in Big Flat City 50 miles to the south of us. Hmmmph.

    That was several weeks ago. Last Saturday, the Cat and I made a spontaneous decision to go into BFC for something else. And clever me, I brought the stereo along. We managed to reach the repair shop 15 minutes before closing time. Well, that's the good news. The reality is that the diagnostic would cost $45 and if they actually made a repair, it would cost a minimum of $95 for labor. Now this particular unit cost us $180 at Wally World three years ago. I gathered up my unit and left in a huff. Well, actually we left in the van. "Let's just go buy a new one," I said. "Then I will disassemble this one to remove the trapped CDs."

    We went shopping here and there, finally finding the other stuff we originally went to BFC for. Then we went to Best Buy looking for a stereo. The ideal would be to find a CD changer that we could plug into the old unit since the radio and tape player still worked. But that was not to be. We picked out a unit and found a salesman. But the unit on display was the only one in the store. I noticed a tag on the shelf for a 5 CD unit on clearance for $19. Yeah, nineteen bucks. But there was no model on the shelf. The salesman was intrigued enough to go searching around the store for it. Sure enough, there were two boxes left. For an extra $6 we got a replacement warranty, so if the cheapo unit breaks in two years or less, they'll send us a new one.

    So when we got home, the first order of business was to activate the new stereo. Hey, it not only worked but it has a storage space for 6 CDs. Then I got out my screwdrivers and assaulted the Sony. This is what it looked like when I finally got the CDs out of it. Only the back was still attached to the frame. But they are good CDs, so it was worth it.

    Amazingly enough, I was able to put the thing back together. And, wonder of wonders, now the CD changer actually opens like it was supposed to. I hooked up a speaker and tried out a crummy CD. Hey! It worked! Now the good old Sony is back in its place and the new stereo is in our bedroom. We can use the remote to turn on CDs from our bed. This worked out a LOT better than anticipated! Here's the Sony back in the entertainment center. I sure hope that the metal plate and the handful of screws that I have left over don't really affect the performance.

    Friday, April 13, 2007

    A week later and it may snow again

    The resurfacing of our living room floor was (and continues to be) quite interruptive. The computer is in a room on the side of the house without an external door. While the living room floor was drying we could not cross it. So we have been living in half the house. The kitchen still has living room furniture in it as it will until Monday. You see, the workers made a mess of the floor and had to re-sand it, re-stain it (actually I did that part), and put on two more coats of polyurethane, buffing between coats. So the job that was to take two or three days has taken a week.

    The floor does look nice now: the color is good, the surface relatively smooth, and it is dry. Once the furniture returns it will look quite nice. But I must put down some trim and paint some scratched places before that can be done. So this weekend we will not be going to central Texas for a friend's daughter's wedding after all. Besides, Cat has to work tomorrow and Sunday since her job is with an accounting firm. Taxes, you know.

    When it snowed last weekend, I had covered the peonies to protect them from freezing. Ther is the possibility of light snow tonight, but I think that the flowers will be all right. The tulips had pretty well reached their seniority even before the snow. They still have blooms, but they are tired old ladies now, gaudy in color, but losing their form.

    I know that Easter is over. Here's the extent of our decorations for the season: pastel rabbits. In the kitchen. With everything else.

    Saturday, April 07, 2007

    Yeah, it snowed

    As predicted yesterday, it snowed overnight. Here is what tulips look like after a two-inch snowfall. There has been a little snow coming down this morning, but now that the temperature has warmed up to a degree below freezing, the streets are wet but clear of snow.

    If you did not read the previous post, do so and then come back to these photos. They will make more sense that way.

    Here's our kitchen filled with couches and an entertainment center. See the dark area on the top of the front couch? That's where the dust has been wiped off. Oh, yeah, there's a fine layer of dust throughout the house, but mostly in the kitchen. We will be washing everything we cook with and eat from before and after using.

    Here is an example of the interruptive flooring pattern. The area to the bottom left was in the old sitting room. The top left is from the old dining room and straight ahead is the former hallway leading from the front door. Cat had hoped that the sanding and staining would make everything the same color, but there are some dark areas (from the stains left be previous owners) and light areas (from my piecing in new wood). Well, it's old and I suppose I have some light and dark areas that will not go away as well.

    Here's the way that the whole living room looks now, solemnly awaiting the restoration of pictures and furniture.

    Friday, April 06, 2007

    My excuse this time

    The house in which we live is about fifty years old and has wood floors in the original parts of the house. As we discovered when we removed the carpet in the living room, the house used to have a different structure. When first built, the entryway opened into a hall with a door straight ahead leading to a sitting room. To the right was a door leading to a dining room with built-in cabinets (china hutch?) on the south wall. This would have been a tiny dining room, allowing for no more than six people.

    When someone along the way decided to remove the interior walls to create one large room of the two small ones and the hall, rather than replacing the vacated wall plates (bottom 2 X 4s) with oak, they just nailed in some scrap wood and laid carpet. When we made the decision to rip out the carpet, I removed the scrap wood and pieced in oak planks. There were also several squares in the floor where an oil burning heater had vents and these had to be pieced in as well. That was about three years ago (um, okay, maybe four or five). Anyway, we just never got around to sanding the floor and refinishing it.

    Several weeks ago, I got a carpenter to agree to send his team to the house to do this task. Scheduling was a problem due to the fact that I would be gone to Galveston for a week (see posting below). So we finally agreed on Wednesday, April 4, as a start date. That meant that I had to move ALL the furniture and books and artwork and memorabilia somewhere else. Just packing up the rocks and elephants occupied Cat for a couple of days. Her back is hurting, so I pushed around all the furniture BY MYSELF. On Wednesday morning, I called the floor guy to find out when he would arrive. "Um, early afternoon," he said. Great, I would just wait for him after lunch.

    It was about 1:45 when I realized that we had voicemail. You know, don't you? He couldn't come until the next day at noon. Did I mention that the entertainment center and two couches are stuffed into our kitchen? We can still get to the refrigerator so it's been cereal for breakfast and eating out for dinner. That's my excuse for not posting earlier.

    Today (Friday), they got the stain on the floor and the house smells like petroleum distillates. Tomorrow (we fervently hope) will be polyurethane day. Cat and I may just go to a hotel over Easter weekend. If you have observed the weather reports, you will know that snow is predicted for tomorrow. Yes, April snow in West Texas. Tomorrow, before the workers arrive, I will take some photos and post them whenever I can get back to the computer (located in a room on the other side of the living room). Then you will see what I mean.

    Sunday, April 01, 2007

    Catching up

    I was gone all last week and had limited computer access. I was attending a conference on distance learning; the sessions were interesting and the people were very friendly (this was, after all, the Texas Distance Learning Association conference). I met several people who are Christians and were quite interested in our Kenya project. In fact, one lady got to the point that she started crying when I talked about it just because she is struggling with what God wants her to do in her life. She has already started a cowboy church service in El Paso, but feels that there has to be more that God has in mind for her.

    The speakers at this conference generally got straight to the point without wasting a lot of our time convincing us that the theory was sound. You can read my notes at eLearning if you are interested. I will be adding to them over the next week. During Tuesday's general session, one of my new buddies volunteered me to respond to the keynote speaker, so I got to talk to all 800 participants. That was cool. And I met some people I had only known through email and phone conversations before. One of them turned out to have gotten his Master's degree from the University of Texas in French linguistics. So did I. And he participated in UT's exchange program with the Université de Nice. So did I! In fact he was the last one to participate in the program before the French folks changed the program.

    While I was gone, the tulips in our yard started blooming. They are stronger this year than last. Maybe it is due to the prodigious rain we have had. Anyway, they are lovely and have a delightful aroma. I will be posting more flower pix as the season wears on.

    Friday, March 23, 2007

    Well, that didn't work

    So you didn't care for "What's the story," huh? Let's see, you want to hear about our mission project to Kenya? Once again our church is sending volunteers to Kenya this summer. We have three teams this time so that the logistics won't be too overwhelming. Everyone is excited, but we are running into a snag.

    Back in November, we received a floor plan of the building that our church is paying to have built. The idea has been that the summer teams would be able to do some construction work on this building. But we find out that there has been much discussion and very little action. The final plan for the building still has not been approved or submitted to government authorities for permits to build. It is only two months until the first team is supposed to go. What do you think the odds are that construction will be started even?

    So we are having to explore other activities we can do there. (The non-refundable tickets for all 18 people have already been bought.) One possibility would be to accompany the Kenyan college students back to their villages to do ESL or Bible school or door-to-door evangelism. Sounds exciting, but I wonder if some of our team members will be up for that. I guess we will see what God makes available, won't we?

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007

    What's the story?

    Funny, I had already been thinking about posting a photo and asking for stories. Then I read Rev. Dave's posting and he beat me to the punch. So let's try this--see if you can put together a story that combines BOTH the photos below. Let's start with something easy, shall we?

    Sunday, March 11, 2007

    Got a new project

    Sure, it's an eye, but what kind of eye? It's part of a new project that I have going.

    Like I don't have enough to do already. There are still the cabinet doors to finish up for the kitchen. They are cut and ready to glue up, basecoat, sand, paint, paint again, add hinges, and hang, but it is rainy outside today and, besides, I won't have much time before church (the evening service). When I ran out of glue yesterday, I went back to another project that I started with Cat in mind. See, she is a collector of elephants (I could easily do a year's worth of elephant photos), so I drew off a flying elephant for her. Not a "Dumbo" ear-flapping elephant, but one with wings, serene and mystical. We decided to make a wall hanging of it so I enlarged the drawing and sketched it onto a piece of MDF. Then I fired up my trusty scroll saw and cut out the form.

    Well, it sat like that for a while. When I sharpened my chisels and started to work on it, I realized that an assist from power tools might be in order. A router helped reduce the thickness of some of the back legs and wings. And a sander got me started on the belly. But what helped most was finding a wood carving set made in Japan. Wow, those blades are sharp!

    Here's the way the whole project looks at present (lying on our dead lawn). I am saving the tail for the very end of the carving so I won't break it off. Eventually the wings will be completely detailed, there will be wrinkles here and there, and it will be time to paint. What color do you think a flying elephant should be (NOT pink)? I can't decide between a solid color or the kind of decoration that they use in India with little mirrors glued to it. Or maybe several layers of different colors, then sand it and otherwise distress it for an old, nostalgic look. Hmmmm, what do you think?

    Friday, March 09, 2007

    Back from my nap

    No, I was NOT taking a nap. Sometimes you just get real busy (I am not going to whine about that, however). So how about a combo posting? Let's start with a rock picture. This amethyst was bought in Austin, Texas (I think). I went to school there long enough to get a Master's degree. It was a cool town back then and probably still is, except the traffic is maniacal. Anyway, one often finds amethyst inside geodes. This piece is about 3 inches wide.

    Now for a vocabulary item. A friend of mine sent a list of fake musical terms that included dill piccolino (a very small wind instrument that only produces sour notes) and alregretto (a tempo which the performer discovers is much too fast). But now let's talk about a real word: ort. This is not the "helping verb" my grandmother used to express an obligation (although she did say she was "too tarred to arn the close"). No, this tiny, completely English word means a scrap of food left from a meal. "'Scuse me, are you gonna eat that ort?" Or how about "Oh, I'm sorry for the misunderstanding. I said I was an ort collector." Well, you make up your own usages.

    And finally we conclude with a "watzat?" This one should be pretty easy. It is in my study, of course, and we have had it for about five years, I think. Reminds me of a fireworks display. What do you think it is?

    Here's the rug. It isn't old or expensive or even the right colors for the room, but it keeps my tootsies warm in the winter.

    Monday, February 26, 2007

    Rock and roll

    Know what I got Cat for Valentine's Day? I got her a CD by Santana. Now this was surprising, not to her but to me. I was surprised several weeks ago when we were at a basketball game. Jonboy, the commentator, put on "Oye Como Va" during a timeout and Cat asked, "What's the name of that?" I told her and she said that she had always wanted a Santana album. Who knew??? So that went straight onto the list of "what to get her for the next occasion." We have an anniversay coming up next month (our 37th) and now I have to discover something else she has always wanted. (Cat, if you are reading this, drop some clues, OK?)

    Here's another rock photo. It's a somewhat small geode. What fascinates me is the shape. Does it look like the outline of a fish to you? I have no recollection of where we got this one. We have a dozen or so geodes with a variety of interiors. One of them was sawn in two for me by a teacher in my university's science department. But not this one. Just don't remember.

    Friday, February 23, 2007

    Zebra stone

    OK, I promised some rock pictures (and I am not talking about Mick). Here is an unusual stone from Western Australia. It is called zebra stone for obvious reasons. The red stripes contain iron, but geologists are uncertain regarding the process of formation. I bought this from a Frenchman who had lived in Australia for twenty years. We had a pleasant little conversation (in French) and he made me a nice deal on this rock and another. I only regret that I didn't buy a piece of opal from him.

    Monday, February 19, 2007

    Where in the world? Please comment.

    Have you seen the map over there to your left? Click on it to see it bigger. It records the locations from which people view this blogsite. Now I recognize a number of the dots: Annie in Louisiana; Patti in NY; Mindy, Jonboy, and Rachel in West Texas. But who are those other viewers scattered around the world? Paul is in the Netherlands, but who looked at this site from China or western Africa or eastern Europe?

    If you are visiting this site, please, just this once, at least, leave a comment telling where you are in the world. Even if you leave an anonymous note, where are you? Je peux parler français, but I am no good in Chinese or Swahili, so I hope you speak English.