Sunday, April 29, 2007

Camping Part 3--back home

We're home from our camping trip. It was a lot of fun. The weather was great although it did get a bit warm in the middle of the day. Last evening there were 50 Cub scouts with their parents camping nearby--they seemed to be having a great time! We had our own "church" around the campfire before leaving. In fact, the sermon got interrupted when a snake swam by--not sure if I should read anything into that or not. Check out all the photos at my web album below.
Career MK Camping trip

On Saturday we went on a wild flower hike with the park ranger, thereby adding several more photos to my wild flower web album.

Now the laundry is done and the gear is packed away, and we soon start another week of work. But it will be a short week because we're off to Michigan on Wednesday.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Camping Part 2--taking a break

This is urban camping, you know, so we are home for an hour or so to do the following:
get some more filtered water
take a shower
get more ice
get food for tonight and tomorrow
off load photos to make room for more
and, make a blog

We had a great first night camping. Our menu: salmon, corn on the cob, hashbrowns, broccoli salad, strawberries and s'mores.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Camping Part 1--preview

We're going camping this weekend. By we, I mean Gary and I with Rachel and her friends. Gary filled up the car with firewood this morning--all those dead trees he's been cutting down the past few weekends. Then we drove over to the State Park before work this morning and put dibs on our favorite spot.

We off loaded the firewood in the weeds--hoping no one will steal it while we're at work!

We have both the flowers and the lake to enjoy.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Chilly Picnic

We had a BBQ picnic at our house last evening. Gary did the cooking.

Rachel got to see a couple of her friends.

But it was almost too chilly to enjoy sitting out on the deck. It seems like this spring has been quite a bit cooler than past years. Must be global warming.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


The weather is finally getting warm again after a couple weeks of unseasonable cold. We cleaned up the backyard today in preparation of a BBQ planned for tomorrow evening.

Rachel discovered that the outside mirror on the driver's side of her car was smashed--I wish our driveway was wide enough for two cars! We went to O'Reilly Car Parts and Auto Zone both today without finding the correct replacement glass. It could be that her car is too old to be able to find it easily, but we will try Pep Boys next. If that doesn't work, it will have to be the internet.

Rachel has interviewed at 7 out of 9 of the local elementary schools now. Keep praying that just the right job will be offered to her.

Gary gave a talk at U of North Texas this week, and got this cool speaker's gift. This, and a mug, and a free lunch. He'll try to get the paper published, which he coauthored with one of the profs there.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Update on Earthquake in SI

The world has been utterly changed by the internet, at least in some ways. A case in point: The following news came to me via an RSS feed from a blog set up by students who speak To'abaita. When we lived there 25 years ago, we would never have imagined such a thing.

We are grateful that the loss of life was not greater, but it will still be a difficult process to rebuild, since the country is poor, has little infrastructure, and consists of a lot more ocean than land.
In what could be the final death toll, 52 people have lost their lives in the earthquake and tsunami which devastated Western and Choiseul provinces two weeks ago.

The latest figure has been revealed by the National Disaster Council management Office yesterday.

Program officer, Julian Maka'a says the latest figures have been sent in yesterday by an NDMO officer sent to both provinces to specifically confirm the number of deaths.

He says Gizo island alone accounts for 33 of the total deaths.Maka'a says the new numbers came mainly from Nusa Baruku on Gizo which recorded 10 deaths, seven of whom are children below the age of five years. He adds most of the deaths in the disaster were children.

Maka'a says up to now there is no longer any missing people. He says nine deaths were reported from Simbo, two for Rannoga, another two reported from Vella La Vella and six deaths from Choiseul.

Maka'a says according to reports that came in so far, people from the Shortland Islands have not reported any deaths.He says although earlier reports suggested that four people were missing on Mono, they were later found.

Of course, in many other ways, the world has not changed at all.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Prayer Request

Rachel got some good news today--she was called by one of the local elementary schools to come in for an interview on Thursday at 4pm. This was a bit surprising because the job fair for this district isn't until Saturday, so this proves that someone is actually looking at her application. Please continue to pray that God will open up just the right position for her for next fall.

In other news, Rachel is trying to organize a camping trip for weekend after next. She's inviting me and Gary as well as all her MK friends. It could end up with 16 people or it could end up with 4. We'll just wait and see, and have fun no matter how many come.

Gary also won his first bid on Ebay this past week. But I can't tell what it was because it just might be for somebody's birthday.

I got several emails about our skunk problem (but only one comment :-). We still smell a faint odor in our bedroom and bath. Probably the smell is coming through the holes where the plumbing is. But it is getting fainter each day.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Skunks, Part 2

Last night it happened again. At 2:45am we were awakened with watering eyes and slight nausea. The smell was even worse than Monday night.

It is hard to think clearly at that hour. I decided it wasn't skunk at all, but rather a gas leak. (We have propane which they purposely scent to smell like skunk.) Next step: open all the doors and windows because it doesn't stink outside, only inside. Next step after that--do your research. So Gary and I both got on Google and started learning all we could about both skunks and propane. At 3am, one's mind is open to a lot of possibilities!

Somewhere along the line it occurred to me that if the house explodes, I'm really going to wish I had taken the time to get dressed before doing my research. So just to be safe, I went outside--hoping there actually wasn't a skunk in my way--and turned off the gas tank.

Then we started having a full debate, detailing the logical facts to support the skunk theory vs. the propane theory. We were also worried about critters other than skunks coming in all the open windows, since they don't have screens. And I was really worried about Rachel, hoping she was just sleeping through it all but afraid we were going asphyxiate her.

Eventually we decided there was nothing to do but to try to go back to sleep. The bedroom was WAY too stinky, so we each slept on one of the living room couches. The smell at that end of the house didn't seem so bad.

We did manage to go to work this morning, in spite of my general grumpy attitude. At lunch time I phoned the plumber who recently installed our new water heater, and asked his advice about whether or not he thought it could be propane. He voted for the skunk theory.

Then I made Gary stay home from the office and get busy with a plan to evict the skunks. He hauled rocks and plugged the two recently created holes under the foundation skirt.

I just hope he locked them OUT and not IN!

I really hope that is THE END.


Propane has a strong, unpleasant smell like rotten eggs, a skunk’s spray, or a dead animal. Propane manufacturers add the smell deliberately to help alert customers to propane leaks, which can create a safety hazard.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New Passport

Today I remembered that Gary's passport was about to expire, so I ordered him a new one. I found the form online and filled it out, gave him a hair trim, took a digital photo, printed it out to specs, wrote a check, and had him sign it. Good thing he looked it over before signing because I had transposed two digits of his SS number. I'm mailing it off along with his old passport tomorrow, but I plan to get a tracking number and send it by priority mail.

In other news, my mom called and said it was snowing pretty hard in MI. And Rachel got to hold a less-than-24-hours-old baby today--that made her happy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

This Stinks!

Last night we were awakened around 3am with the horrible scent of skunk! It was hard to get back to sleep and then this morning, when we went outside, it smelled fine OUTSIDE but still horrible INSIDE. Our conclusion: the skunk sprayed under the house.

Upon further investigation, we've discovered two digging holes, one by the front door and another under the foundation under the deck. Further evidence: A week ago a similar think happened, and a few days ago Gary actually heard a skunk (any idea what a skunk sounds like?) then saw him headed away from the house.

So today I'm doing internet research on how to get the skunk out from under the house. We don't know if he (they??) live there or were just visiting.

I've also got all the windows open and the furnace running to try to air the house out.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

New Personal Website

Thanks to our internet provider Comcast handing over its Dallas customers to a new company called Roadrunner, I have lost my old website. I carefully followed their directions to migrate it to Roadrunner, but without success.

So, I decided to make a new website, this one hosted by Google. Here is the URL:

Add this to your favorites, and delete the other one.

I used quite of bit of the material from my old site, as you will see. But the photo albums are now done completely via Picasa, and are much easier to manage. I plan to add more photo albums as strikes my fancy.

If you look at the new website, you'll see photos from today. We had Easter dinner at a friend's house, joined by David and his girlfriend for just two hours. David told a few more of his surgery stories, including amputating a guy's femur, cutting it with a wire saw in 7 seconds!

Saturday, April 07, 2007


It is April 7 in Dallas, and the bluebonnets are in full bloom. And it is snowing. Just a few flakes that immediately melted, but snow nevertheless.

(Not the best photo, but you get the idea.)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Very Hungry Caterpillar

Remember that book?

First photo taken last evening:

Next photo taken 18 hours later:

Ironic side note: While typing this blog, I looked down at my keyboard and found a tiny inch worm between the N and M keys--I guess it somehow stuck to me while I was out taking the photo. Now it has fallen inside the keyboard :-/

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Solomon Islands Earthquake and Tsunami

You've been hearing about the situation in the Solomons on the news. Here is the official word from our colleagues:
A magnitude 8 earthquake and following tsunami hit Solomon Islands yesterday. It was centered about 200 miles NW of Honiara where we are, there was no damage to the SIL facility and the members and our national colleagues are safe.

However the Western Province capital of Gizo has been hit pretty hard. We would appreciate your prayers for people there - and especially the man who is the leader of the Bible Translation Organization for Solomon Islanders, Joshua Lui. He arrived in Gizo the night before the earthquake hit, and he was going to stay there a couple days to be with his daughter while she underwent surgery in the hospital there. But in the morning, Joshua and his relatives saw the water rising from the tsunami and they fled to higher ground. They are safe, but have lost many of their possessions.

Click here to see an interesting map from the US Geological Survey that plots out the quakes.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Saturday Update

We had some storms last week with pretty strong winds. We found large branches from four trees broken off and needing to be cut and hauled off--this one by the compost pile and three others on the edge of the woods. So we dug out the chain saw that Andrew bought during the 9/11 crisis. (We were in Thailand, he was home, and a tree fell down across the road and driveway. Instead of calling someone, he bought a chainsaw and went after it himself, exercising his problem solving skills :-) Anyway, it took some doing to get the chainsaw running, including tearing it apart, but Gary did get it going and spent the day sawing.

After I got home from my tea party, I helped stack the wood that Gary had cut into bon-fire sized pieces.

Speaking of cutting trees down, here is a shot of this year's crop of toadstools that come up each year at the foot of a bit tree stump just behind the shed.