Monday, October 31, 2005

Labiodental Flap

Just in case there are any linguists reading this blog, I'd like to point out that one of my colleagues has gotten the International Phonetic Association to adopt a new phonetic symbol, named the labiodental flap, into the International Phonetic Alphabet. This special alphabet is used by linguists around the world to represent all the exotic sounds that the human mouth can make. Ken didn't invent this sound nor did he discover it. But he did research this sound and found it exists in 70 languages, most of which are in central Africa. A new phonetic symbol is kind of like having a baby, and everyone in the Linguistics department is proudly showing off this new addition.


As you can see from the jackets, it was chilly, but it was nice to have one last BBQ of the season on Saturday.

The weather stayed nice for a Sunday afternoon Halloweeen alternative at our church, and today we finally got a little rain. We are 12" below normal rainfall, so we still need a lot more.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Updates from Africa

I got some new photos from Andrew and Laura this morning. Always nice to hear from them. Looks like they have found some furniture for their living room. Last time I saw a photo, it was a big bare room with nice floors. Here is another of the flowers out front of the house.

I got emails from two African countries this morning--three from Ethiopia, and one from Uganda. David's girlfriend is living in Uganda for a year, teaching school under the auspices of the Mennonite Central Committee. Her email said she had gotten two proposals of marriage last week. I'd say David better get on the stick before it is too late!

Speaking of David, he's two-thirds through his first semester of medical school. But his challenge for today is repairing his broken washing machine. He called last night to say he had torn it apart (using the info I sent him a blog or two ago) and had to go buy a multitester to check the solenoids. When I offered to mail him an old voltmeter we have, he replied, "But I have to have a digital one." He always was the snooty kid in the family.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Self-paid Missionaries

Tonight at our weekly Bible study I met and interesting couple and learned a bit about them. They are part-time missionaries, in a very specific way. The husband is a CPA, and he works for some company in Ohio that prepares tax returns. He works for them 4 months of the year, during tax season. Then for 8 months of the year, he and his wife do financial work (internal audits, installing new financial software and training people to use it, etc.) for a mission board. Sometimes they go to Africa, sometimes to Dallas. They don't have any children, so that makes this lifestyle possible.

We know another couple who live in Dallas who does similar work. He is a police officer, she is a clothing designer. He uses his 4 weeks or more of vacation and go to various places to do financial work (he was an accountant before he decided to become a policeman) for missions. His wife goes a long and gives haircuts and perms while shopping for exotic fabrics for her clothing business. (She also makes custom wedding gowns and lets missionary girls wear them for only a $50 cleaning fee.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

It is Fall and Love is in the Air

Today we got an email from someone who is, shall we say, in the autumn of his life. Over a year ago his wife of around 50 years died. He has fallen in love again, and reports that, with his children's support, he is thinking of marrying a single (never married) lady who lives down the hall in the retirement center. It was just too cute.

He's not the only one--a couple months ago two 70 year olds, recently widowed, have married and are acting like 18-year olds.

These gentlemen know what is good for them.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Broken Washing Machine

I'm awaiting word from David to hear how his big test went today. This is the end of block 2, so his first semester of medical school is two-thirds finished.

In the break before block 3 begins, he needs to try to repair his broken washing machine. He called me for advice the other day, but the best I could do was scan eight pages from the indispensable homeowner's bible and email them to him. Oh, I and told him that no, it wouldn't be a good idea to leave his wet clothes in the washer from Friday until he had time to do something about the washer on Tuesday. Ah, the joys of homeownership. I may need to buy a copy of this book for David for Christmas.

The leaves are starting to fall from our trees, making a mess on the deck I just worked so hard to refinish. I remembered that my mom had bought Gary a leaf blower last year for Christmas, so I got that puppy out and tried it. Wow! I had that deck spottless in no time. After that rousing success, I just couldn't resist the temptation to try it on my kitchen floor. Luckily, no one was home to observe how that went.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


It took a full two weeks, but today we finished the deck refinishing project. I spent most of the afternoon working on it, and Gary joined me to do the second picnic table while I cleaned up the mess. It took two gallons of stuff--not paint, but Behr Premium Weatherproofing, Natural Clear color. The weather has remained pleasant, so maybe we can barbecue on the new deck before it gets cold.

We watched the first game of the World Series tonight with a couple of Rachel's friends. She made Puppy Chow for us to munch on. But you can't eat much of that at once, or at least you shouldn't.

I called David just as the game was getting started. He was too busy studying for a big test on Monday to watch.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Miss Rachel, the Texas Teacher

Rachel's one-year Texas teacher certificate arrived today, squashed into the mailbox along the "Do Not Bend" stamp. It was signed by a familiar name: Anette Griffen was the principal at Duncanville HS when Rachel was in 9th grade. Rachel has collected the information she needs to start preparing for the two tests she needs to take and pass over the next year to get her permanent certificate. Your prayers along that line would be appreciated.

I also went to the Boutique mircowave "sale" this morning, only to learn it was yesterday morning. They still had one that fit my specifications: small, working, and free. So now I have a "new" microwave to replace my other used one, one that fits onto my countertop a bit better.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Gary's Back

Gary got home tonight in time to watch the last inning of the baseball game, Houston beating St. Louis. So David now gets to be in a World Series town.

I painted a few more boards on the deck today, while fixing a nice dinner for a couple of Rachel's hungry friends. I've run out of stuff, so I'll visit Home Depot tomorrow. Someday I'm going to finish this project.

Today I got bit by a mosquito on my arm, about one centimeter from where I got my flu shot yesterday. I bet that mosquito is either dead or well-immunized.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Snoopy Bandaid

Today I had my fall flu shot. $15, including a Snoopy bandaid. I made Rachel come and get one too. By the time we walked there she was white and saying she was seeing "black and white spots." She got the shot, then said she wanted to throw up, and the nurse sweetly asked her to lie down on the floor. After a few minutes her color came back and she was OK. On our way back to the office she said she now understood what it meant when people say, "It's all in your head" and how fear can make you sick.

Other activities for the day: grocery shopping, more work on the deck, and going to a birthday party. I should clean my kitchen, but I'm tired. No doubt if I leave it, it will still be a mess in the morning.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Deck Refinishing

The weather has finally cooled down to the high 80s, so I decided to start my fall project--refinishing the deck. We have a very nice deck that Gary's parents built for us several years ago, but we've been too lazy to refinish it every year. It is a lot of work to scrub 2-3 years' worth of dirt and algae off the deck, so our friends lent us their pressure washer to try. It doesn't do a perfect job, but probably good enough, so we're cleaning it that way.

After a couple years of wear, the nails start working themselves out too, so they all have to be pounded back in. I convinced Gary to help with this chore.

The deck is too big to do all at once, so we're cleaning then painting a section at a time. And the job is too big for me alone, so I've talked Rachel into helping. When I went to Home Depot to buy the sealer, this time I bought the most expensive kind that is supposed to last for four years. We'll see.

Speaking of Rachel, this week she finally heard from the Texas Board of Education about her status as a Texas teacher. The good news: they have granted her a one-year temporary certificate. The bad news: she has to take two more standardized tests to qualify for permanent certification. Ugh. So I guess she'll order the study guides and start studying again. In the mean time, she still has a temporary job that is bringing in some money, and she is hoping to save enough to buy a used car.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Another Reception

I was very happy to receive a few photos from Andrew and Laura in Ethiopia yesterday. I remember them saying their coworkers had had a reception for them, but I missed other details about it. Apparently, as you can see in this photo, they had some kind of special white wedding garb. Another photo had a couple of cute flower girls with them. I'm hoping to hear more details.

The weather has blessed us with a few drops of rain, but not nearly enough. So today I'm planning on refinishing another layer of the deck. It is too big to do all at once, so I'll work at it little by little. I did just borrow a friend's pressure washer, so I'll see if that will take the place of scrubbing, but I doubt it.

Not much else for news. Gary is working way too hard. He is staying up so late and getting up so early that when he lies down to watch the baseball playoff games, he is asleep before the third pitch. He's home this week, but off to Richmond next week and Boston the week after that.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Not much for news lately. News from David is that he sprained an ankle playing indoor soccer. He joined an indoor soccer league that is so bad, he "scored two of our three goals." He sent me a calendar so I can see how his school works. He has two semesters that are divided into thirds, six blocks altogether. He has a few days off after each block, and the month of July off. He bought his ticket to Ethiopia for Dec 20-29, and Lori bought hers too, so he is excited about that.

I haven't heard much from Andrew and Laura. I know they are sad to be missing the baseball playoffs. I think Laura is organizing some photos to send, but I still haven't gotten them yet.

Rachel is doing well. Still no word on her Texas teacher's Review of Credentials, although they did charge her credit card. She is still making pretty good money and not working that hard at a temporary job at the Center. She is attending two singles' groups.

Gary went to Lubbock last weekend for a linguistics conference. I picked him up Sunday morning at Love field early enough for choir practice. He is home this week, but then off to Richmond the next week and Boston the week after that. While he was away Rachel and I attended a wedding at a new wedding chapel in Duncanville. I gave more of grandma S's pottery for a wedding gift, but my stores of pottery are running dangerously low.

I'm starting to refinish the deck. I wish I had some help.

I guess that is about all the news.

Friday, October 07, 2005

How Do You Like Your Eggs?

I decided to be ambitious today and prepare my breakfast for the next week. I like to make a bunch of breakfast burritos at one time, then freeze them so I have a quick breakfast ready for the coming days. So I got 10 tortillas ready, cracked 10 eggs into a bowl, sauted some onions and green peppers. Then I somehow managed to tip the bowl of eggs--not yet scrambled--over onto the stove, one of those smooth glass cooktops.

I started cleaning up the mess. Do you know how hard it is to pick up spilled eggs? While doing this, some of the eggs spread over the hot burner. Voila! Cooked eggs with no pan to clean up! Nice smell, too.

I broke out into hysterical laugher--all by myself with no one around to listen--at how silly I must look.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

It's Pay Day!

Sometime during the wee hours of the morning, the magic electrons brought our funds for the month. Having just checked the totals, I decided to go shopping at my favorite store. I found my daughter three shirts, two of which she liked. The other one goes back for the next lucky girl. I found a shirt for myself too. I found a pair of scrubs that should fit my doctor-wannabe son, and I also found a tupperware bowl that he could use (even if the lid is cracked). Of course, he'll probably want me to fill it with homemade cookies before I send it to him.

Alas, I can't buy everything at my favorite store, so off I go to Walgreens and the grocery store. I'll make Rachel go with me for company. It is just us girls here for a few days as Gary left this afternoon for a linguistics conference in Lubbock, TX. He gives his paper (part of an invited panel) on Saturday morning. He takes an early Sunday morning flight back to Love Field so he won't even miss church.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Eyesight Is Not the Same as Vision

Last Sunday we had an interesting woman speak to the congregation. She was a cheerful lady, who spoke clearly and confidently. She and her three eldest daughters (they have five kids total) sing semiprofessionally with a wonderful close girl-harmony not unlike Point of Grace. Anyway, she told her story: First she and her husband were told they would be unable to have children, I don't remember why. Then she did get pregnant and gave birth to daughter number one who had numerous health issues as a child, but eventually thrived. When she was pregnant with daughter number two, her doctor came in and told her, "Today you must decide--your eyesight or your baby. If you continue your pregnancy, you will go blind." She replied, "There's no decision to be made here, I won't abort this baby." The doctor called her a fool.

She gave the congregation a little lesson about communicating with blind people.
  1. Don't talk louder.
  2. Don't point.
  3. Eyesight is not the same as vision.

Her blindness does not seemed to have slowed her down or hurt her spirit, and her husband and five sweet kids rise up and call her blessed.

Her words reminded me of something. In 1996, we had a banquet to celebrate the completion of Lingualinks, a package of software for language work that Gary had supervised for several years. At the banquet Gary was given a gift of a portable tape player--the kind for playing 4-track tapes used by Recordings for the Blind. The speaker said something similar of Gary: "He may have poor eyesight, but he does not lack vision."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Lord, Bless the Churches on Kiest Avenue

Our pastor did a cool thing today. He prayed for our church only after he prayed for the other churches on our street: The Potter's House and Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and the little Hispanic church across the street and the Church of Christ. He asked the Lord to receive the praise that was being lifted up from each of these congregations and to work in the lives of people who live on Kiest Avenue.

I like a pastor who knows the world doesn't revolve around his parking lot.

(I also noticed our immediate neighbors, Oak Cliff Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, were not in his list.)

And on a personal note, I had a nice chat with David today. His school got back in session on Wednesday after the Rita scare. He got a 92 on his last set of exams. He can't wait until Christmas.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


This has been a pretty slow week for blogging. I just haven't felt very inspired to post much. I did take this photo this week of three butterflies chasing each other above a lantana bush.

One day this past week it was 104 degrees, and then a storm came and gave us just a little rain, and cooled things 10 degrees. But we need lots more rain, our whole yard is dead.

One small accomplishment for the week: I repaired 2 (two) VCRs. Now they both work again. It was just a matter of opening them up and finding the right place to clean and the right spot to replace a loose piece that fell out.

I haven't heard much from the boys this week. Andrew seems to not write as much as he used to now that he's married. Now there's a surprise, huh? I phoned David once this week, but he didn't answer. At least Rachel keeps talking to me. And she's been so happy lately, she hasn't even had anything to complain to me about.

Today we had a watermelon party in the neighborhood. It was a get-acquainted party for the residents' association. We are blessed to live in about the world's best neighborhood.

Speaking of good neighbors, my neighbor gave me a pair of Nike shoes today, worn about twice. She didn't find them comfortable, and they fit me perfectly. I had needed a new pair since I wear the outside heels off so quickly. The Lord provides.

Gary is at the Rangers' game tonight. I think it is their next to last game. A friend had an extra ticket. And Rachel is away at a party for the singles' group. I'm just home trying to think of something to blog about. And finish the laundry, and clean the kitchen, and you know.