Thursday, January 31, 2008

Goodbye, Tree!

The workers from Lumberjack Services arrived at 8:30 this morning and had seriously pruned a very big Osage Orange tree and completely removed its little sister by 11:30. It is amazing how fast it can be done if you know what you're doing and have the right equipment.

And now we have a massive pile of brush, branches, and logs covering up Gary's dormant wildflower garden. The city does pickup in our section on the first week of the month, so hopefully it won't be here long.

I took Gary to DFW early this afternoon. The wind was blowing so hard I nearly got blown into another lane of traffic. I wonder if his plane will be able to take off.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


On January 20 Rachel sang in a women's trio in church. They did a great job, and I'm especially proud of Rachel because this was the first time she has performed in a group this small (college choir doesn't count!). She was pretty nervous, but did a great job. They sang a beautiful rendition of "How Deep the Father's Love for Us." Here is a link to the lyrics.

I have an .mp3 recording of the performance which I got via the church's CD recording of the service. (They don't post special music online due to copyright issues, or you could listen that way.) However, I think it would be OK for me to email the file to any of you who might like to hear it. Just let me know.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Birding Walk

Yesterday afternoon I drove Rachel's car over to Cedar Hill State Park and went for a solitary walk while Rachel and Gary were at choir practice. It was nice to be out in the sunshine for a while, and the temperature was mild.

There were mallards:

American coots:

Eastern Bluebirds:

And evidence of a prior existence...

...of one of these, a great or snowy or cattle egret, I don't know which.

And I found the first wildflower of the new season amid lots of dead grass.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Stupid Bowl

Last week Gary got talked into making a trip to Michigan next weekend. Only today did we realize his flight home was right during the Superbowl! That made him grumpy, but there was nothing to be done since they had already purchased his tickets. Maybe I'll tape the commercials for him.

It is very cold here today, but there was no freezing rain last night like they predicted.

Rachel is at the dentist at the moment. She has been trying to floss her teeth, so she's hoping for a good checkup. That would make it cost less, too.

David and Sarah are considering buying another house. Sarah needs a place to live until the wedding and after the wedding they could rent out one or the other place. With the current housing market, they can get a foreclosure at a pretty good price.

Andrew is applying for a different job--still waiting to hear more on that.

Rachel and I are thinking about going to Michigan for April's graduation (Gary will be in Thailand at the time). But if we use all the frequent flyer miles then, we won't have so many to go to Santo Domingo next Christmas. Hmm, have to think about that.

We're having one of our two big male Bois 'd Arc (aka Osage Orange) trees removed and the other pruned next Thursday. A sad way to spend $1000. But this is the tree that lost a huge branch last spring when we were in Michigan for Alan's graduation. The tree is old, diseased, and full of mistletoe, but I still hate giving up the shade.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Hello? Are You There? (Playing with the Christmas Toys)

I got up late this Saturday morning and checked my email. There was a gmail message (gmail is a type of email) from Gary, written from Germany two hours prior, saying he had gotten to the hotel in Frankfurt that had free internet. So I got on my gmail account and sent Gary a chat message. (A chat is an instant message, where a little box opens up on your computer and you can instantly type messages back and forth.)

We chatted this way for a while, but due to Gary's eye problems, it is a slow way to communicate. So I asked him if he had taken his brand new fancy headset/microphone with him on his trip so we could switch to Skype, free internet telephone. Sadly, he had not. So I said that we should test and see if his computer had a built-in microphone. So he started up the Skype program, and a minute later we were verbally talking to each other--clear connection, too.

Then he exclaimed, "Wait, I can see you!" I had turned on the new little video web camera that I had gotten for Christmas.

We talked for a while, then I decided to go a step further. I added Andrew to the conversation via a conference call. It took him a minute to set up Laura's computer so he could join us--his computer doesn't have a built-in mic and he had left his headset at the office. But before long we heard, "Hello, mom? Hello, dad?" We were talking between US, Germany and Honduras, all for free. Cool. And since Gary had left his fancy new headset here, I decided to use it--much more comfortable than the one I had mashed into my ear. Very cool.

Andrew had to tell us all about their trip to the baby doctor yesterday and the latest sonogram. "That kid is in there running laps," he proudly said. But it is still too early to tell if it is a boy or girl, and it is still too early for Laura to feel the movement.

Then Gary had to tell Andrew that he had just walked over the bridge where he and Laura's engagement photo had been taken. (Whether or not they actually got engaged there remains a mystery, but that is not for me to speculate :-) )

In other news, Rachel decided to go to the ladies' retreat from our church last night. It was a sleepover, and I expect her back some time after three. Yesterday she had the day off (as she also has Monday off) so we went to David's Bridal and she tried on bridesmaids dresses and shoes. She has lost so much weight that she fits perfectly into a size 4--except the dresses are too long, of course.

OK, enough of me making fancy blogs. I need to go get dressed and clean the kitchen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Off to Germany in a Warm Coat

My standards are very low, but even I thought Gary's boutique topcoat needed replacing. So I went to Men's Wearhouse yesterday and bought him a new one. When he tried it on in the evening, it proved to be way too big. So we went back and got a different one. I like this one lots better, it fits, and it cost $30 less. He should be able to wear it when he goes to Germany again in March, and maybe a trip to Michigan sometime this winter too.

He's off to Germany for just a few days to a conference called the DRIVER Summit. He's missing other meetings going on here, but will return in time to attend the last two days. He wanted me to be sure to say this if I blogged about his trip: Sandra and Doro, he's only going to be in your fair country a short time and will see you in March, so don't get mad that he didn't come to visit this time. :-)

Tonight he will miss Soup Group, the Bible study group that meets for soup at our house every Tuesday. We're having split pea and ham soup with this loaf of homemade whole wheat bread that just came out of the oven--yum! (I wonder when computers are going to be able to send aroma files across the internet??)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Update Again

It finally feels like Christmas vacation is over. That's because Rachel went back to work yesterday. She's being a PE aide this week. Yay--no papers to grade! She's also practicing to sing in a small group special music at church in 10 days.

She ordered herself a new winter coat and a new voice recorder/mp3 player with her Christmas money and they've both arrived. I'm hoping she will post a photo of her new coat--you can't miss it! She claims she's going to learn how to "write" audio blogs. We'll see.

Gary got home from Chicago safely. All went well and he was happy to find a cheap Subway restaurant to eat at while there. He leaves for a few days in Germany in less than a week.

Andrew and Laura got home to San Pedro Sula safely but Laura is already off to Costa Rica. Andrew is pouting since he has to say home.

I haven't heard much from David, but I think his classes started back up. And I think Sarah is trying to find a new place to live.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


I talked Rachel to coming to my office late this morning to help me put away the Christmas. That made it go faster. Then I put her to work on the recycle paper. That was necessary because of the miraculous turn of events last week--Gary cleaned off his desk at the office!

Speaking of Gary, hemade it to Chicago today, and used his new cell phone to call me from his hotel room on the 22nd floor. But I wasn't home. I tried to call him back, but he must have turned it off.

Since Gary is gone, I let Rachel talk me into taking her shopping at the Parks Mall this afternoon, but not until I managed to get the car inspected. (It rolled up 160,000 miles this week, but it passed.)

We looked hard for a winter coat, but none were the right color/size/style/price combination. :-( Did I ever mention I hate shopping??

But I did buy Rachel some new black earrings (since I lost one of her old pair). And I'm happy to say that I found just the right thing that Gary needs for his upcoming birthday. So the trip wasn't a total waste of time.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Christmas Photo Album

2007 Christmas

Once the album downloads and opens, use the Slide Show option to view the photos to see the photo and caption. You can also add comments if you want--no one will steal your credit card numbers! One of the photos is really a little movie, showing what Gary got from Santa this year.