Saturday, April 30, 2005

Foxglove Penstemon

Foxglove Penstemon

I've walked the trails several times lately, and this is the one and only one of these I've seen.

We had a nice chat with Andrew today. He arrived safely in Charlotte last night and was able to get a full night of sleep. It was nice to be able to talk leisurely for a change, since phone calls to Ethiopia are pretty expensive.

Rachel continues to have her plate very full, so keep praying for her.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Andrew in Amsterdam

Andrew just sent an email from Amsterdam. Wow, they just don't make overseas travel like they used to. From Amsterdam he sent me a spreadsheet I needed that got clobbered when my computer died. Amazing. He had a long layover there, but he said it was too cold and rainy to go out and look around. He will have other chances.

Remember all that work Rachel went through to get her fingerprints made? Turns out the police in Bethany didn't do a very good job with her little fingers and smudged all the prints. So now she has to go to the main police station in Oklahoma City and do it again. Not something she has time for in her last hectic weeks of school, but she did find someone willing to take her there next week.

Tonight we've been invited out for dinner, so I don't have to cook. yay. But I did make chicken curry last night, and it turned out pretty good.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Third Computer this Week

At 7pm I got a phone call from the nice man at the computer services department. He had stayed late to get my newest old computer running. Wasn't that nice of him? So I went over right then and picked it up. He did a great job getting it working properly, and now I'm spending the hours to install the software I want. Next job is to get it working on our home network and then download my backup from Gary's computer. It will no doubt take me a few days to get configured like I want, but it is nice to have a "new" machine. It is a Toshiba laptop with a large clear screen, and it seems to be faster than my last two machines.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Computer problems

A few days ago my computer died. It was Rachel's old computer, 5 years old, so I guess it was about time to die. The bad news--I hadn't backed it up the day before. The good news--I had backed it up a week ago.

So then I moved to a Compaq laptop, which I'm using as I type this blog. This computer was also given to me, and is so old it doesn't have a USB connector. But it doesn't reboot itself, so at least it works. The strange thing about this computer is that it has some kind of nanny software on it, and there is a list of words it won't let me type. Well, I can type them, it just won't display them.

So now I'm trying to get hand-me-down computer #3 working, David's old machine. This one is a Toshiba laptop with a nice big screen. Still not a very new machine, but at least it has a couple USB connectors on it. We tried to install the OS and just had so many problems that we decided to ask for help. So today I just took it over the the nice guys at the Center computer services, and they seemed to think in about 24 hours they could have it working for me. It was pleasant to have them smile at me and say, "Sure, I can do that for you." So, maybe in a day or two I'll see if I have a "new" computer. Then I'll see if I can install my backups.

In other news: Andrew leaves for Ethiopia for the states this week, so pray for his safe travel and smooth connections.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Texas Star

Texas star Posted by Hello

Every spring I enjoy hunting wildflowers. Texas is ugly, I've said it many times. But there are so many beautiful wildflowers every spring, that it almost makes up for it. There are some hiking trails behind our workplace, so I took an hour's walk there the other day. I found several new flowers.

In other news, I took Gary shoe shopping today. He got two identical pairs of shoes, one brown and the other black, exactly like the two pairs he's throwing away. He's an easy man to live with.

I talked to Rachel this afternoon. She has made it through her first of two weeks of solo teaching and each day went well. She has had no time to do anything else, and has tons to do this weekend: preparing for teaching next week; homework for her one night class; work on her portfolio, etc. She was going to relax for a couple hours by attending a school musical which I expect she will enjoy. Thanks be to God for helping her to do so well this past week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Down the Garden Path

flowery path Posted by Hello

In the winter of 1998, Gary ordered wildflower seeds over the internet and planted them in the strip of dirt between the sidewalk and the street in front of our house. The first spring they bloomed in an almost embarrassing flurry of showing off; cars would slow down as they passed by and people out for a Sunday stroll would stop and ask if they could take their family pictures in front of them. I think we counted 20 different species of wildflowers that came up that spring.

In the years intervening, we've gotten to observe the process of ecological succession as the dominant flowers (daisies and Mexican Hats) have crowded out others (poppies and toadflax). Gary was so taken with this process that he actually kept a spreadsheet for several years recording which species bloomed each year. I have had to remind him that he is not an unbiased observer of this flower garden since he can often be found watering, and pulling out overly aggressive bunches, and even weeding it. Like you could actually weed a wildflower patch...they're all weeds!

On another topic, Rachel's solo student teaching continues to go well, though she is getting exhausted. She had two evaluations today, one by the supervising teacher and one by her professor. She didn't get a perfect evaluation, but her prof said she had improved a lot since the last evaluation. She brought home 6 stacks of papers to grade, and she needs to do planning for next week, etc, etc. I hope she gets some sleep so she doesn't get sick. Keep praying for her.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Discretionary Spending

Yesterday an unexpected check came labeled "discretionary." Isn't that a nice word? So I spent some of it discretionarily--including a ticket to go see my baby in Washington DC for a quick weekend trip in early May. I won't be able to be there for his graduation from the leadership training program he has been in this past year (in conflicts with Rachel's graduation on May 14) so I'm glad to get a chance to go the weekend before that. I'll also plan to take Gary shoe shopping with this gift--the shoes he's wearing are pathetic!

We also give thanks to God for providing for the last of Rachel's two college payments.

Speaking of Rachel, she did pretty well on her first day of solo teaching, but sounded near panic when she went on to describe all the other stuff she has to get done. I assured her I and others would keep praying for her.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Graduation Photos

Bluebonnets Posted by Hello

Rachel came home from college this past weekend. We expect this will be her last visit home until she graduates in just under four weeks. (Wow, I'm so excited that she is going to make it!) Anyway, we decided to try to take some photos to put with the graduation announcements. We tried the traditional photo in the bluebonnets. (This time of year you can see cars illegally parked along the freeway so people can take photos of their kids in the flowers. The police don't seem to mind.) But when we tried it, we didn't have much luck--wind blowing hair in her face, too much sun causing shadows, and squinting. Oh well, nice idea.

So next we went over to the park and found a shaded area in the scrub trees. That seemed to work a little better. Now I've got to somehow get one of the photos into her announcements.

Please pray for Rachel if you think of her these next two weeks when she will be doing solo student teaching.

trees Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 14, 2005


frig Posted by Hello

After days of eating leftovers, Gary suggested I go to the grocery store. So I did.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

"Fee e fii."

In case you don't speak To'abaita, the title says, "Fees hurt." I remember that sentence from the Solomon Islands language we learned so many years ago, because it was the one and only time I made a joke in a foreign language and somebody actually got it. The To'abaita word fii means 'pain'. (That morpheme is actually part of another word, fiito'ona, which means "faith," a word we anglicized to use as a middle name for our daughter who was born there.) Anyway, back to my story--the people in the Solomon Islands have problems similar to mine--finding enough money to pay the fees for their kids to go to school. So it was a pun to say "Fees are painful" since the word for pain sounded like "fee."

So why on earth am I talking about this today? Well, we are just about to finish eight years of paying college bills. The last kid (Fitona) will soon graduate, and we only have two more payments to make to her college. I've been worrying/praying about how we could make these last two payments, and the Lord has recently answered that prayer by a couple unexpected generous donations to us. We thank him for that.

Then today I got a handwritten letter from someone in the Solomon Islands asking me for money for someone else's kid to continue their college education. This is a family we have known for over 20 years, and in the past have helped to pay the fees so their children could attend secondary school.

So did God give me extra money to pay my kid's college bill, or their kid's college bill? Probably both.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Time for the Times

Today I left work early so I could come home a blitz-clean my house and bathroom and then make homemade pizza. Our lunch guest was a freelance journalist here to interview people, including the Executive Editor, for an article he is writing for the NYTimes about the Ethnologue. We're hoping he writes a complimentary article, which I'm sure he would have done even without the pizza.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Heating Pad

We are trying to thaw Gary's frozen shoulder. I bought a heading pad and he is putting heat on it and trying to gradually get his arm to move a little further. It is going to be a lot of consistent work to overcome this.

And then while in church this morning he got a bad sore throat. So he skipped choir since he couldn't sing.

Tomorrow he is to be interviewed by a freelance journalist who is writing an article about the new Ethnologue.

I'm getting close to buying tickets to Santo Domingo.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Frozen shoulder

Here it is getting nice and warm, and the doctor told Gary today he has a frozen shoulder. He finally went to the clinic today for an injury done 6 months ago. He decided it was time to do something about it since he is no longer able to lift his left arm above chest level. He knows he hurt the arm way back in September when he was trimming trees, but kept hoping it would just get better on its on. The doctor prescribed either applying heat and slowly moving it more and more each day, or go to a physical therapist for $75/hour. The visit to the dr. was also a time to tell the dr. about David's plans for med school. David shadowed this dr. last summer for a while to see if he could handle the blood and guts part of medicine.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Everything's Bigger in Texas

Fuzzy Posted by Hello

Even the friendly caterpillars are bigger here.

And speaking of Texas, the Rangers stated their season tonight. I should go to bed, but I want to know if they're going to win.

Saturday, April 02, 2005


Gary is out of town. He isn't scheduled to fly back until tonight but he said he might try to get on an earlier flight. I should mow the lawn--but isn't that supposed to be his job? And he flies out again tomorrow on another short trip to New Mexico where it is supposed to be cold.

I got a good email from Andrew this morning. He has been working with a person from USAID in their AIDS/HIV section to make some progress on his project. He said he has been looking for new office space and a house to live in (he's been in a hotel kind of arrangement for all these months). He said he got to go to a rare classical music concert last night--an orchestra from Germany was there and they accompanied an Ethiopian pianist in Beethoven's 2nd. He has recently gotten a new burst of encouragement for his work there due to some leadership changes. It is a real blessing to have email contact with him.

Reports from Rachel continue to be good. She seems to really like this 2nd grade rotation, good teacher and good kids and she likes this age group. Of course, it will get harder when she has to actually be in charge for two weeks, so keep praying for her. She/we are starting to think about a job for next year. It is kind of complicated because she won't have any certification until June, and then she won't have a Texas certification until sometime after that, but the Texas teacher job fairs are in April and May. And the job fairs are in Texas and she is in Oklahoma and is really too busy just keeping coming to Texas. Pray she will have clear guidance in thinking about a job.

David called a couple times this week and you won't believe what he is thinking about doing--buying a house! Apparently some of the realtors in Houston work with MD and MD/PhD students to sell them condos. Of course, he has no downpayment money and we have none to lend him (though the realtor told him often parents help with the down payment). So he is investigating what he might be able to do with no or tiny down payment. It may not be possible, but I told him to go for it if he can, since he would be paying a lot of rent over the next 7 years.

My mom now has tickets to Dallas in May. She is coming for two weeks over the time of Rachel's graduation. And cousin April plans to pass thru Dallas then too--she's going to be a camp counselor at a camp near Austin for the summer. It will be nice to see her.

Friday, April 01, 2005

How Much is a Missionary Worth?

Today I filled out the annual paperwork that determines how much money we are "supposed" to get for our income. This a a complicated, 4-page form that includes information on how much we need to live on in the areas of housing, transporation, insurance, taxes (including 15% SS taxes), ministry expenses, and children as well as a few other things. We all know that children are expensive, and now that mine are (almost) all grown up, we no longer include them on this form. Once the math was done the form said that up through May 31 our family needs $72,000 per year to live on, but starting June 1st, we will need $35,000 to live on. Wow, those kids eat a lot!

Truth be told, this annual form serves as a way for us to estimate our expenses, but other than that, it has little bearing on reality.

Today I'm sad to hear this news of our colleagues. I didn't know them personally, but I expect they were worth a lot.